Butshok Gompa

Text from Khenpo Chokye

 

Historical Background

Manang is one of the most remote and least populated districts in northern Nepal. The landscape is high steep valleys beautified by perennial snow mountains and magic meadow land during the short summer

In Manang everyone has deep devotion to Buddhism and their daily life is very much linked to monastery activities. People often take the temples as the place where they can get in touch with their inner spirit and seek temporal and ultimate happiness.

The principal lama or abbot of the monastery is appointed by the senior wise by monastic community and local authority. Since Manang is one of the closest neighbors of Tibet, its entire culture and spiritual practice were strongly influenced by Tibet.

 

Source of monks

Formerly, every family was expected to send at least one boy to the monastery and the middle son was required to be a monk. As soon as a third son was born to a family, the monastic community would approach with kata (silk offering scarf) and bottle of beer to acknowledge and proclaim the middle son would be the future monk. The boy would be ordained at the age of 12 with grand celebration to enter the monastic life.

The monastery life used to be the only access to education and improved social status. People went to monasteries to be educated, accumulate merit for their family, and pursue religious fulfillment.

The training consisted mainly of ritual recitations, retreat, and meditations for spiritual accomplishment. However in 1966 many Manangi started to migrate to lower parts of Nepal and even India, in search of better economics and contemporary education for the young generation.

Ever since migration started, the ancient cultural heritage and monastic institution was adversely impacted, becoming increasingly difficult to uphold and preserve. 

 

Past restoration of Butshok Gompa

The old temple was badly situated, facing northwest, so that, even during the day time, hardly anything can be seen in the temple without lamps, and it was also extremely frail condition. In 1970 they did rebuild with the hope of improving the natural heating and light and relocated to facing south. Obviously, it was a great help for illuminating the temple, which was also far warmer than before. Still, due to the lack of good architects and sufficient financial support, the beauty of traditional religious artifacts was disappearing entirely. It has been facing multiple additional problems: the security system, the wind, which sometimes blows off the entire tin roof, and leaking during the monsoon, and so on. The monastery was built on the very edge of the site due to limited space. It is quite risky because of erosion and landslide. Therefore it is crucial to build the monastery on a safer location and create a conducive environment. So lately more land has been bought for relocating the monastery and creating a bigger space arround it. 

The people from Manang formed a management association for the Butshok Gonpa project. Now they are rising funds among the local community.  Our expectations are that 30 to 40 % of the total budget can be raised by the local community. It is planned to use cement and steel as material for a stable and long lasting construction and to minimize the consumption of wood which will save the forest.