Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey in New Zealand

The following article is from the Winter, 1990 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey was born in a small town called Yar-kyag, in the Tre-hor District of Kham, which was largely a farming community during that time.

Geshe Dhargyey's monastic education commenced at the age of seven at the local monastery, D'ar-gye. There he studied very hard and showed great promise as a serious scholar and practitioner.

In order to fulfill his potentialities, Geshe Dhargyey went to Lhasa at the age of sixteen. At that time it was a three-month journey by foot and horse from Kham to Central Tibet.

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Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

In Lhasa he was admitted into the Sera J'e College under the Abbot, Ngawang Gya-tso. There he studied under great masters, such as She-rab Wang-chog, Chomzse Ngawang Dorje, Geshe U-gyan Tse-den and D'on-t'rub Top-Gyal (who later became abbot of Sera Je College after the monastery was resettled in South India).

In Sera Je, Geshe Dhargyey studied the Five Treatises. He was also under the gracious, kind eye of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Junior Tutor, Kyab-Je Tri-Jang Dorje Chang, who showed great interest in his progress. At times the Junior Tutor provided Geshe Dhargyey with food and other necessities; he also helped him in preparing for debates.

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Dhargyey Buddhist Centre

Geshe Dhargyey had Lha-gon Rinpoche and T'ub-ten Rinpoche under his care during his escape from Chinese occupation in 1959. Although the journey was perilous, they chose to continue wearing their maroon robes of Lord Buddha. They visited several pilgrimage places on their way, in-cluding Rateng Monastery, Chokor Gyal, Di-khung Dhen-sa Thil Monastery and Ta-lung Monastery.

They eventually arrived in Nepal, and then India one month later. It was in Buxa, a refugee camp where the Sera monks had reassembled, that Geshe Dhargyey passed his Geshe examinations, receiving the highest degree, Geshe Lha-ram-pa.

He lived in Kalimpong for about four years, studying, practicing, and teaching. He later moved to Dalhousie, where Sharpa Rinpoche and Khamlung Rinpoche first received religious instruction from him. This is also the place where he had his first Western students.

Meanwhile, in Dharamsala, the Tibetan Library of Works and Ar-chives was being built under the auspices of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Upon completion in 1971, His Holiness asked Geshe Dhar-gyey to teach Dharma classes to Westerners at the Library with the help of Sharpa Rinpoche and Khamlung Rinpoche as translators. These classes began in November 1971.

For approximately ten years, Geshe Dhargyey tirelessly taught five and six days a week. Vasubhandu's Abhidharma-kosha, Shantideva's Shiksa-samujai and Bodhicaryavatara, the Junior Tutor's Lam Rim, Uma la Jug-pa, Gampo-pa's Lam Rim (Jewel Ornament of Liberation) and many other important Buddhist texts were taught during this time. He introduced the precious Buddha Dharma to thousands of Western students.

In 1982, Gesfie Dhargyey was invited to Washington University to teach for a semester. When word got out that he was leaving India, he was invited by several Library students to visit their countries as well. He visited and gave teachings in England, Europe, U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand. At the end of that tour, he agreed to return to New Zealand to set up and teach at a Buddhist Centre. His students in New Zealand worked hard toward this project which eventuated in 1985. The Dhargyey Buddhist Centre was founded and Geshe Dhargyey arrived in June 1985, along with his attendant, Kedup Tharchin, Geshe Pal Tsering and translator, Losang Dawa.

The centre is located in Dunedin, a university town of about one hundred thousand people. Dunedin is set in a beautiful coastal area of the South Island. The centre is in a large, beautiful, stately historic home. Geshe Dhargyey lives there along with his attendant, Khedup Tharchin, and several disciples.

There are classes on Monday nights (presently Ngon tog gyen), Thursday nights (presently Lam Rim Chen Mo) and meditation classes on Sunday mornings. Tibetan language classes are given by our translator, Losang Dawa.

The centre offers a short course of teachings of special interest to Geshe Dhargyey's overseas students each year.

The centre is steadily growing under the kind and compassionate care of Gen Rinpoche. We already have a Western Sangha of seven and an ever-increasing number of students.

Anyone interested in more information about the centre, please write to: Dhargyey Buddhist Centre, 22 Royal Terrace, Dunedin, New Zealand. Telephone: (64) (03) 4778374.

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