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Sacred Relics


White Relic This is a concise history of the various relics of different sizes, shapes and colors, which were found at Tsurphu during the reconstruction of the monastery. Many small, white, round bones were found buried in the earth. Relics such as these often come from past Buddhas or Bodhisattvas of the tenth level.

If one has strong faith and devotion, thousands of relics often manifest from just one. It is essential to keep it in a very pure and clean place, cared for very well. Prayers and offerings should be done; otherwise it may not multiply.

These relic bones are often round, in other dimensions could be considered being a precipitation of bliss arising from the central nervous system of highly realized masters and the activity of the Bodhisattvas. These precious "rinsels" (as they are known in Tibetan) exude a powerful blessing, as they are from the very body of the Buddha and the Karmapa (who is prophesied to be the Sixth Buddha of this aeon). They are often used for the consecration of stupas, temples and shrines. Always treated with the utmost respect, they are kept in special, (preferably high) places and can also be worn for protection and blessings.

Usually they are not taken internally. However, they may be taken internally when one is very sick and close to death. When they are used like that, it is said that the essence of the "rinsel" rests at the crown of one's head. For those with meditative concentration, the "rinsel" will quicken the opening of the crown chakra at the top of the central channel, helping to prevent the possibility of falling into the lower realms upon leaving the body in the moment of death. According to Drupon Dechen Rinpoche of Tsurphu, one who swallows the sacred relic will never go to hell!

As previously mentioned, the 20 meter high statue at Tsurphu, the Tsurphu Lhachen, was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. It contained over two pounds (900 grams) of Buddha Katsyapa's (Buddha Osung - the Third Buddha), sacred bone relics possibly dating back 4,000 years ago! All these precious white bone relics fell to the ground, unnoticed for many years.

Another source for these white relics dates back to the late 12th century. Towards the end of the life of the First Karmapa these sacred relics came from this Karmapa's body. A statue of Dusum Khyenpa called "Nga-dra-ma" in Tibetan (literally a statue which "Looks like me" (Karmapa) was built, and these relics - white and generally round as well - were put inside this smaller statue. After the destruction of Tsurphu Monastery remains were found underneath the temple ruins with many white relics around it.

These relics are available from the foundation.


There were also found smaller black relic bones, mostly quite round in shape, which came from the many masters and Mahasiddhas, who were once residing at Tsurphu Monastery. Some were from the incarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapas and some from the Shamar, Gyaltsab and Pawo Rinpoche Lineages and their spiritually advanced disciples. There were fourteen sacred "Kudungs" (corpses of great Lamas) at Tsurphu when it was destroyed. Most of these black bone relics came from these "Kudungs".


There is yet another type of relic. It is small sacred black stone relics from the shores of Lake Namtso - a lake extremely sacred to the Karmapas. It is the largest salt water lake in Tibet, about a day and a half drive by jeep from Tsurphu.

According to history, the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, visited Lake Namtso. The historical legend tells that he flew there by using his miraculous powers. As he stood near the lake, he threw a handful of black pills into the lake and requested the protectors of the Lake, Dorje Gurdak (a wrathful emanation of Guru Rinpoche) and other various Naga gods and demi-gods, to ever increase these black pills in number as a source of faith and for the benefit of beings in the future.

About four centuries later, the Fourteenth Karmapa, Thekchok Dorje, came to the lake and requested Dorje Gurdak and another protector, Nyen Chenpo Thang-La, to be guardians of these sacred stone relics after throwing a handful of black pills into the lake. Still to this day they continue to appear around the shores of this lake and they are regarded as very auspicious relics, especially for filling statues.

How To Obtain The Sacred White Relics

If one is interested in obtaining these sacred white relics, the Monastery administration has given Tsurphu Foundation these exact relics, to be given to patrons of the Monastery and Foundation. Anyone giving $500.00 US or more will receive a special thank you gift of a gold, embossed card containing these relics. It will include a photo of the Karmapa, blessed personally by him (it has a red thumb print on the back of the picture), a blessed cord and an explanation about these precious rare relic bones. For further information please contact Tsurphu Foundation

The black relics will also be made available at a later date; one may inquire!

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