Khandro Sunduk Ceremony for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche
by Laura Ellis
In January 2016 a special Chime Pagma Nying Thig Khandro Surduk ceremony was performed for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche’s long life. The ceremony was led by H.E. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at the request of the Sakya family and Sakya Monastery. “Khandro” in Tibetan means “Dakini” and “Surduk” means ‘obstacle remover’. This sacred Tibetan ceremony involves creating an effigy of a person and offering it as a replacement to the dakinis for the extension of a person’s long life.
H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and his maternal grandfather H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche both perceived through their dreams that the “Khandro Surduk” ceremony would benefit H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. The Monastery then set out to find a high lama who was qualified to perform the ceremony. As one of the few high lamas qualified to perform the ceremony for a high lama such as Dagchen Rinpoche, and because his previous incarnation was one of Dagchen Rinpoche’s root gurus, H.E. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was an obvious choice. Although he was very busy preparing for a more than 3 month long teaching in Bhutan where many Lamas and monks were to gather from all over the world, Khyentse Rinpoche postponed the start of those teachings in order to come to Seattle. To assist him, Khyentse Rinpoche selected three experienced lamas from Bhutan and one from Canada. During the Khandro Surduk ceremony H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche was present. Also arriving from India to attend were present at the ceremony were H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche’s three grandsons: H.E. Dhungsey Avikrita Rinpoche, H.E. Asanga Rinpoche, and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche.
Before arriving in Seattle, Khyentse Rinpoche’s lamas did many preparations for the ceremony in Bhutan, such as creating a life sized straw effigy of Dagchen Rinpoche. It was built in pieces and then assembled in Seattle when the lamas arrived. They came a few days ahead of Khyentse Rinpoche and worked day and night to prepare for the ceremony. The statue was adorned with Rinpoche’s personal belongings including a whole set of his clothes and surrounded by his religious implements such as his dorje, bell and dhamaru.
In the Khandro Surduk ceremony the effigy of H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya was offered as a decoy to the Dakinis and a supplication was made: “Here is the lama. Please don’t take him now. Here is his replacement.” In the ceremony, 5 other monks dressed as Dakini each one of them wearing the colors of the 5 Dyana Buddhas: red, yellow, blue, white and green. After the ceremony, the effigy of Dagchen Rinpoche was taken to Whidbey Island and immersed in a pond at the Earth Sanctuary.
This was not the first time that the Khandro Surduk ceremony had been offered to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. In fact, Khyentse Rinpoche himself had read in documented records of his predecessor, H.E. Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro Rinpoche, that the Chime Pagma Nying Thig Khandro Surduk ceremony had been performed for Dagchen Rinpoche by Chokyi Lodro Rinpoche in Kham, East Tibet in 1953. It was done again in Seattle when Dagchen Rinpoche was 73 years old, and again at Sakya Tsechen Ling in France during that same year.
After the Khandro Surduk ceremony had concluded, H.E. Khyentse Rinpoche performed a long life Tenshug for H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche. The Khandro Surdok resulted in an improvement in Dagchen Rinpoche’s health. Through his inconceivable kindness, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche continued to bestow blessings to all sentient beings by presiding over Sunday meditations at the Monastery.
We are profoundly grateful to H.E. Khyentse Rinpoche and all devoted practitioners around the world whose prayers enhanced the health and long life of our beloved precious holy guru, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche. Khyentse Rinpoche’s talk given on January 30, 2016 will be available soon on our website.