by Marcela Lopez
Pujas in a Pandemic
Since March 24th, as in most places, we in Nepal have been forced to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the new virus which has badly infected and killed so many people in the world. This lockdown, of course, includes the monks and nuns. All the monasteries and nunneries are closed! In the midst of this lockdown, our lamas in the Chapagaun Gompa are continuing pujas as planned. On May 4th, the Dorjé Dermo puja commenced with the guidance of the senior lama, Ngawang Yeshe, the Vajra Master for this puja.
Sadly, due to the lockdown, I was not able to join the puja in person this year. But thanks to the kindness of Lama Tenpal Gyatso, who shared some photos and a short message, we are all able to get a nice glimpse of this important event!
Four Dakinis, Four Activities
This is the second year that this puja has taken place in our gompa in Chapagaon, as instructed by Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche. Lama Tenpal Gyatso explained that the Vajra Claw practice belongs to the Chokling Tersar; in particular, it is a practice within The Seven Cycles of Profundity (Tib. Sabdun). Within these cycles of practices one can find four dakinis, each corresponding to the four enlightened activities: the dakini White Umbrella (Tib. Dukkarmo) is practiced for its pacifying activity; the Lotus Dakini (Tib. Pema Khandro) is invoked for magnetizing activity; as for the dakini related with the increasing activity, the lama explained that her activity is mostly invoked by those who desire to have a baby but haven’t succeeded.
A Guardian and Protector
Finally, Vajra Claw is the dakini who is invoked when wrathful activity is needed. Her dharani is chanted in order to invoke her and have her as a guardian and protector. In particular, this practice is performed to dispel obstacles, provide safety from enemies and fears, and remove all sicknesses and difficulties, as well as to obtain many qualities and encounter favorable circumstances. All the benefits of this practice were explained in detail by Buddha Shakyamuni himself in the “Incantation of Glorious Vajra Claws”, a teaching he gave to monks and tantric practitioners in a place called the Vajra Palace.
For three days, during the puja in Chapagaun, the lamas have been reciting the “Incantation of Glorious Vajra Claws” sutra; they have been accumulating various recitations of Dorjé Dermo’s dharani, as well as many thousand recitations of her mantra, while following a short sadhana practice arranged by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche based on the terma revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa. Thanks to the generosity of the various sponsors who supported this meritorious event, the lamas have also performed hundreds of feast offerings every day to this wrathful deity mandala. The Vajra Claw puja is a perfect practice suited for these particularly challenging times. May it benefit everyone in the world and help ease the difficulties we are all facing these days!