Funeral Ceremony for Ven. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen
The students of Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen who traveled to India to bring back his holy body to his home monastery Gaden Shartse succeeded in that difficult task of transporting it safely. Although there were a few obstacles and difficulties along the way, mostly the endeavor went very well.
It was a very dramatic and emotional event when the vehicles carrying Ven. Geshela's holy body and his students who had traveled with him arrived at the gate to the debate yard and a large procession of Tulkus, Geshes, monks, students, officials, children, and others slowly escorted the entourage around the magnificent debate hall to a specially prepared room behind, where rituals were to be held to prepare the remains for the cremation.
A special "Fire House" was built and decorated by artisans for the cremation.
Monks throughout the monastery were doing prayers and pujas for Ven. Geshela. This is younger monks doing prayers in the new debate hall.
Ven. Geshela's holy body was prepared by rituals in rooms behind the great debate hall then transferred into the ceremonial palanquin. It was then carried in procession to the Fire House.
Once inside, the Fire House was closed up and whitewashed and decorated by monks and students.
HE Kabje Zong Rinpoche led the cremation ceremony that involved ritual puja performed by numerous Gaden Shartse senior monks.
We had several audiences with Ven. Lati Rinpoche and Ven. Zong Rinpoche who both gave us some advice and ideas to understand and help us with our emotions about our loss of Ven. Geshela.
Continued prayers and rituals were performed for Geshela at the stupa for several days after the cremation.
Then the monks, with the students as witnesses, opened the Fire House to retrieve Geshela's relics and look for significant signs.
The ritual master who directed the entire ceremony explained to students some of his observations regarding the relics and signs. Ven. Geshe Jangchub Choeden (on left) translated for us throughout our stay.
Many additional prayers and rituals were done for Geshela in the days following. His relics were returned to the room behind the debate hall and enthroned there during this time.
The students of the blind school came to pay their respects to their beloved Geshela who has given them support for many years. Geshela has many charity projects in India that he has sponsored for many years.
Finally the stupa was completely dismantled.
Some of the Gaden Shartse monks who were very involved in the event and who helped us through it.
Geshela's students who attended the funeral ceremony with the abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery at the Shartse Hospital that the present Shartse tour monks have been raising funds for.
Ven. Lati Rinpoche, Ven. Zong Rinpoche, and many other monks gave us support, advice, and information to help us through the whole event. We were given a lot to process and we will try to share as much as we can as the days go by. We have many pictures and videos to share. There is supposed to be an official statement made by the monastery that we will be given that outlines significant aspects of the funeral events.
Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen's students are encouraged to think about him, do his Swift Return Prayer by HE Lati Rinpoche, and in many ways pray for him to return to us, to be found safely, to continue his education at the monastery, and to come to the West again. A statue of Ven. Geshela is going to be made to hold his relics and it will be placed in TDL. A letter has been sent to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to begin the process of the search for Geshela's next incarnation.
We were told many things by many Lamas about the significance of the many events surrounding Ven. Geshela’s passing, but here is an incomplete list of some of the things that stand out as evidences that Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen was a very realized and accomplished being.
1. The great rainbow that formed just as Geshela left his clear light meditation.
2. Geshela’s holy body remained perfectly for 3 days 3 hours during his clear light meditation.
3. Staying in clear light for relatively shorter time indicates a quicker rebirth.
4. Geshela’s holy body was preserved throughout the long flight to India despite everything.
5. The monks who prepared the holy body discovered that it had become smaller and it was pliable to set in the lotus posture. This they found very remarkable considering the long period of transportation.
6. There were very few obstacles, mistakes, or problems arising to interfere with the proceedings. It all went almost perfectly.
7. The first smoke went to the West and slightly North, and will be considered one clue to the direction in which to find Geshela’s next incarnation.
8. When the “Fire House” was opened we witnessed that Geshela had left what was described to us as an extremely rare and exceptional type of relic. Among the fragments that were left was a formation that the ritual expert who conducted the ceremony explained to us was the “eye, tongue, and heart”; an impression or formation associated with the body, speech, and mind. Again, this is considered a sign of very high spiritual accomplishment.
9. Upon the sand mandala at the base of the Fire House the ritual master discerned a small footprint formation that also faced in the North West direction. He interpreted this to mean that Ven. Geshela would be reborn soon and in a direction North West of Gaden Monastery.
10. A few days later, Ven. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche mentioned, in a humorous way, that this might mean Geshela could be born in America.
Considering these things and more, we can all feel very confident in Geshela, increase our faith in him and in the Dharma, and accumulate and dedicate merit towards his quick return to this world, his education, and coming to teach in the West again. Time and again the Rinpoches and other monks who advised us emphasized the need for Ven. Geshela's students to maintain harmony and cooperation with each other in making the choices ahead and in supporting and flourishing Thubten Dhargye Ling. They all mentioned that to help Geshela to return quickly and certainly we must try to make as much merit as we can in our own practices and dedicate that to Geshela coming back to us soon.
Below is the schedule of events for the funeral ceremonies.