Extending our care to  Segyu Gaden Phodrang monastery in Nepal

By Irina Safonova

Photo credits by Christian Vizl

Gaden Relief Projects extends its care to Segyu Gaden Phodrang monastery in Nepal.

Segyud Gaden Phodrang is the Tantric College founded in 1432 in Tibet. Since 1986, a Kathmandu branch has been established near Boudhanath.

H.E.Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, Ven Zawa Rinpoche, and a small group of students visited the monastery last November. We were welcomed into the temple and shown around by the abbot, Ven Lobsang Palden, and some senior monks.

H.E. Zasep Rinpoche, Ven. Zawa Rinpoche, the abbot  Ven. Lobsang Palden

There are 140 young novice monks in the monastery who are fondly referred to as mini-monks, and 12 adult monks. The youngest novice is three or four years old (some have no birth records, and parents are not exactly sure), while the oldest senior monk is 50 years old. The monastery said:” Due to our capacity and resources, we wished many times to stop taking in new monks, but the village families come to us with such sorrows. Most of our monks come to us from very bad and heartbreaking conditions. The alternatives for these children would be unbearable – some would be forced to live on the streets or return to abusive homes. We have even intervened for some as young as 8 year old, from being sent to a factory to work for their family. Some come to us with disabilities or mental conditions, and some come with a sincere interest in dharma and a monk’s life. And we embrace them all, and here our, as we affectionately call mini monks, have basic shelter, food and health care, with both monastic and academic education. So, as the saying goes, we just add more water to the soup pot.”

Lunch time

The monastery achieved recognition as a registered government school. In addition to Buddhist studies, young novice monks receive the same academic education as other school children. When young monks finish class 8, they can take the Nepali government exam and earn their first diploma. This achievement brings great joy to them and their families since, for most families, these young monks are the first ones to receive a formal education. 

Exam 

There are currently nine salaried teachers, eight for the school, and one as a Tibetan teacher. The remaining Tibetan teachers and monastic study teachers are senior monks. For the new school term, the monastery will have to hire two new teachers and a school supervisor to comply with government requirements and continue providing our students with the best education possible. Additionally, they will have to add a computer class for the higher grades.

Puja

Gaby Fuchs, a student of Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, shares:

“In November 2023, a group of students and myself had the fortune to accompany our Guru Zasep Tulku Rinpoche to Nepal to practice and do pilgrimage. 

Soon enough monks, abbots and old friends received news of Rinpoche’s visit, immediately we were invited to visit and lunch at Segyu Monastery, the sweet abbot a prolific young Geshe welcomed us, a puja was offered for Rinpoche and later on, off we went to see the compound, around 140 boy monks live there, cared by 12 adult monks, they receive teachings on both Mahayana study and practice, as well as the scholar curriculum, given by outside teachers who come and teach them maths, science, English among other things. 

They live humbly with very limited resources but their devotion is unshakable, such devotion really is inspiring.  It comes as an undeniable truth that a little economic help would go a long way for them, helping to meet the medical, alimentary and other basic needs. 

I hope that in the future not only can I continue to donate money but also to volunteer for the monastery, maybe teach some English or even Spanish, or an Emergency First Responder course. I think we can all learn a lot from them, and continue to create some strong merit by helping to support their livelihood so the tradition of the Buddha Dharma flourish throughout the planet. 

Monks are important holders of the lineage and these monks are the ones who will be the teachers of our tradition in the future.

I am extremely grateful for the new friends, especially to H.E. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche for he has taken us along the path, and extremely grateful for the opportunity that has been set to all of us to support our Guru in his mission of helping all sentient beings.”

National anthem

One of the current and urgent projects is the construction of the debate hall, which will also include additional dormitory rooms for mini monks. Currently, rooms are overcrowded, with some having 2 or 3 boys sharing one bed. The approximate total cost of the project is $150,000, and to date, about 30% has been raised thus far. More information about the initiative “Another Brick in the Wall,” where every dollar donation equals one brick, can be found on the Segyu monastery website: https://segyugadenphodrang.org/

There is a monk sponsorship program where the goal is to receive $25 a month, but any amount is welcome. This money goes into a general fund, which is primarily used for health, hygiene, and general needs.

The average teachers’ salary per month(which includes supplies for their class and any administrative expenses) is $207 CAD

The monastery’s monthly food costs are approximately $2000 USD, mainly funded by donations from pujas, but funds are often ‘borrowed from Paul to pay Peter’ as needed.

Novice monks

We hold the Segyu monks, who continuously work for the benefit of all living beings, in our hearts.

We invite you to join us in a heartfelt mission to support the monks of Segyu Monastery who dedicate their lives to serving others and enable them to continue their noble work of carrying of the legacy of the Great Je Tsongkapas’ original teachings and the pure tantric practices, and spreading wisdom, peace, and love in the world.