Dungkar Monastery, located in the upper part of Yadong hillside about 13km away from Yadong County, Tibet was built in the early 16th Century by Drubpa Ulong Jongnay Rinpoche. The monastery is named after the white conch shell known as “dungkar” in Tibetan. At that time, Dungkar Monastery had a famous reputation for their traditional Tibetan medicines throughout the region.
Later, Dungkar Monastery was officially founded by the highly revered Lama His Eminence Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche.
It was the first Gelug monastery of that area and quickly became the most influential after it was entrusted to Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche in 1901. Eventually, smaller monasteries also came under Dungkar Monastery’s administration within Tibet and across the border in India.
Dungkar Monastery and the other monasteries under Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s care were renowned for their strict monastic discipline, ardent study and especially for their traditional Cham dances. These monasteries became excellent repositories of Tibetan Buddhist culture after the fall of Tibet.
Dungkar Monastery was home to a Guru Rinpoche statue blessed by Guru Rinpoche himself, and Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche would perform annual special ceremonies to Guru Rinpoche.
Under the direction of Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche, Dungkar Monastery also became the seat of a famous and respected Dorje Shugden oracle who was consulted by people from all over Tibet. This oracle could take trance of six different deities including Dorje Shugden and his ministers Kache Marpo and Namkar Barzin. It was through this oracle that Lama Zopa Rinpoche was confirmed as a tulku.
The eminent Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche was a highly learned and erudite Lama who benefited countless people through his works. His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama praised him as Lama Tsongkhapa incarnate and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visited Dungkar Monastery on several occasions. On one of these visits, the Dalai Lama composed the praise to Dorje Shugden called “Melody of the Unceasing Vajra” while at Dungkar Monastery.
After Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche entered clear light, Dungkar Monastery requested for his body to be embalmed and sealed in a large stupa. At the time, only the bodies of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas were preserved in this manner. However, due to the many benefits from his works, the request was granted by the Central Tibetan Government. The stupa containing Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s holy body was consecrated by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Lobsang Yeshe Rinpoche, tutor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Due to its reputation, Dungkar Monastery played an important role in Tibetan politics especially during the early 1950s. When the Chinese troops first entered Tibet in 1951, the Dalai Lama fled to Dungkar Monastery for refuge. Dungkar Monastery is also the site where the famous “17-Article Agreement” between the Chinese central government and the Dalai Lama was reached.
In 2011, Dungkar Monastery’s main prayer hall, sacred thangkas, paintings, and monks’ residences were damaged in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake. In June 2014, with the support of the local government, 7.9 million yuan was allocated to repairing the monastery. After nearly a year, the restoration work was finally completed.
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