Below are details regarding the Nechung Oracle, Venerable Thupten Ngodrup, Nechung Monastery, and Deyang Monastery...
Nechung, the Chief State Oracle of Tibet
Nechung, the Chief State Oracle, Nechung Monastery and Deyang Monastery have a very special connection and great significance in the Culture and History of Tibet. It is important to realize the entire scope of the relationship between these institutions and protective entities.
Nechung refers to the Dharma Protector and the Chief Tibetan Oracle, as well as the Monastery. This Nechung Protector is related to the emanations of the Five Wisdom Buddha Families and their corresponding principles of Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities and Activities.
Pehar, the King of Activity is often considered to be the Chief of these five Nechung Protectors. The Nechung Oracle, Dorje Drakden, is the Emissary of the Five Kings, primarily an emanation of the King of Speech. He is the actual presence that speaks through the Nechung Medium. His manifestation is similar to a wise elder and has a wrathful persona of an ancient lord. He speaks in poetic verse, and in symbolic actions. When in trance, the Medium is dressed in the ceremonial garb of ancient times. He is consulted only by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Ministers of State, and high Lamas with questions on important issues.
In the 8th century AD, during the time of the King Tritsong Deutsan and the early founding of Buddhism in Tibet, the Indian Buddhist Master, Guru Padmasambhava appointed Pehar to be Chief Protector of Buddhism and Tibet. Since then, there have been a succession of monks who have served as the Medium for the State Oracle.
A large number of Tibetans have lived in exile since Tibet’s full occupation in 1959 by Communist China. At that time, it was based on the advice and assistance of the Oracle that H.H. the Dalai Lama, His family and Tutors accomplished a safe passage out of Tibet into India. Reliant upon the help of the Nechung Oracle, many Tibetans, and great lamas were able to escape, providing the impetus to support H.H. the Dalai Lama’s reestablishing the Tibetan Culture, Religion and Government in Exile.
The Oracle offers protection and healing of the Earth and all sentient beings. There are many instances of how the Nechung Oracle manifests his powers in the physical world.
A Brief Biography of Venerable Thupten Ngodrup, the Nechung Kuten
The Venerable Thupten Ngodrup was born in July 13, 1958 in Pari, Tibet. As a child, he was artistically gifted, and had great compassion for others, including a great love for animals. In 1966, he and his family escaped Tibet by way of Bhutan to arrive in Dharamsala, Northern India.
There in Dharamsala, he took ordination as a monk at Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery in 1970 at the age of twelve. Nechung Monastery was just beginning to get reestablished, and Thupten Ngodrup was one of the first wave of new monks. Due to his qualities and artistic abilities, he quickly rose to the position of Sculptor Master and Chief Ritual Assistant to the Nechung Protector while in trance.
After the passing of Lobzang Jigme, the previous Medium in April 1984, there was a gap of three years when there was no presence of a Medium for the Nechung Oracle. The Nechung monks and the Tibetan community requested for the rapid appearance of a new Kuten in daily prayers. On March 31st, 1987, the Venerable Thupten Ngodrup entered into his first spontaneous trance, during Drepung Monastery’s annual offering ceremony to the Protector at Nechung Monastery in Dharamsala. He displayed signs that he may indeed be the next Nechung Kuten.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised that he conduct an extended retreat and engage in special meditations and rituals to ripen and stabilize his abilities. On September 4th, 1987, he was fully recognized to be the Medium of Nechung, the Tibetan Oracle. To this day, the Nechung Kuten engages in extensive meditation, rituals and retreats to maintain the profound connection he has with the Nechung Oracle.
The Nechung Mediums are always fully ordained monks. In the past, they have come from various monasteries in Tibet. In recent times, the Nechung Kuten has been a monk from Nechung Monastery itself. He is an important figure for the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhism, and holds a position of great responsibility in the Tibetan Government.
Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery has an important place in Tibetan history as
the seat of Nechung, the State Oracle of Tibet. The original
Nechung Monastery lies just below Drepung, four miles west of Lhasa,
the nation’s capital. The reestablished monastery
in exile is in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India. There are
three Nechung centers in the United States — New York, San
Francisco, and Hawaii.
Nechung’s roots must be traced back to the 8th century AD, during the reign of King Trisong Deutsan, to understand its significance in Buddhist culture and Tibetan history. At the time, the Indian Buddhist master Guru Padmasambhava appointed Pehar to be Protector of Tibet and Buddhism at the temple of Samye.
A small temple was
built by Trisong Deutsan’s son, Mune Tsanpo, at the present
site of Nechung Monastery in Lhasa site. Ba Pelyang became
its first abbot and an image of the goddess Tara was brought from Samye to this monastery, aptly named at the time to be “Nechung Yulo Ko” (the small pureland of Tara). At that time, Samye, Tibet's first monastic institute, was known as Nechen (the Larger place), and at Nechung (the Smaller place) was a shrine dedicated to Pehar.
In the 16th century, the 2nd Dalai Lama (1476-1542) established initial contact and developed a close relationship with Nechung as His personal protector. The lineage of the Mediums was officially established at that time. The monastery was rebuilt during the reign of the Great 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), who was also the principal architect of Nechung Monastery, and renamed it Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling (Immutable Place of Melodious Sound). It was under His advice and guidance that Nechung was expanded in 1681 and
completed in 1683 during the regency of Desi Sangye Gyatso.
The Great 5th designated the Nechung Oracle to be the chief protector of Tibet, its’ government and people; and responsible for peace and harmony on earth. Since then, the monastery has remained the official abode of the State Oracle of Tibet.
The 5th Dalai Lama also composed Drayang-Ma (Melodic Chant), a text of self-generation practice and an invocation of the protector, which was incorporated into the monastic rites. Other specialized prayers, rituals and training of many lineages were initiated into the monastery's practices and
have been preserved until the present time. The monastery shared a
particularly special relationship with the Great 13th Dalai Lama,
Thupten Gyatso (1876-1933), who relied on Nechung
extensively. The Nechung Protector therefore has been the main consultant dealing with the various spiritual and temporal matters of the Tibetan government and the succession of Dalai Lamas.
The Gelugpa school is one of the five major lineages of Buddhism in Tibet. Its founder, Je Tsongkhapa gave the advice to his heart son, Jamyang Choje to establish a monastery for the study of this approach to Buddhist teachings. At the site where Drepung was to be built, Jamyang Choeje dreamt of a man, who was of a pure white appearance, who stated “if you establish a monastery at this site, I will provide you with 5000 monks.” The man that appeared in his dream was indeed the King of Speech, whose Chief Emanation is Nechung Dorje Drakden.
Drepung Monastery was built at that location, just as prophesied, it became the greatest institution of learning in Tibet, eventually having seven colleges. These were Deyang, Loseling, Gomang, Ngakpa, Gyeba, Shakor and Dulwa. At its peak it had over 7000 monks, from which numerous great scholars and masters have emerged. The Nechung Protector serves as its principle guardian.
Deyang was established by the heart son of Jamyang Choeje, Chokpa Jangchup Palden. There were many accomplished practitioners of the vast Sutras and Tantras. There have been many generations of such great masters who have flourished in their teachings and accomplishments, like the swelling of the streams in the summer.
The origin of how Nechung came to be the Guardian of Drepung is of great importance. In the 8th Century, when Buddhism came to Tibet during the time of the Dharma King Trisong Deutsan, his son Mune Tsanpo, the Great Translator Vairocana, the abbot Shantarakshita, and Guru Padmasmabhava - it was prophesied that the location of the Drowa tree would to be the abode of the Nechung Protector - Pehar. Mune Tsanpo built a small temple at this place.
Here is a brief explanation of how Nechung and Deyang Monasteries are interconnected. Following the building of Drepung, Chokpa Jangchub Palden had a vision that an article of the Nechung Protector Pehar was to come down the Kyichu River, which was directly in front of Drepung. He told his attendant that a special guest would be arriving and to go receive and escort him.
Upon arriving at the riverside, the attendant saw a box floating down stream. He lifted it up and carried it, walking uphill towards Drepung. The box became heavier and heavier, when he arrived at the site where the current Nechung Monastery (in Tibet) is situated, he could no longer carry it. He put the box down on a flat rock, and cried out “Lama Khyen! (May the Lama Know!)” It is said that the same mantra appeared spontaneously on that rock.
Wondering with curiosity why it became so heavy, and what was within, he opened the box just a crack to peak inside. At that instant, out flew a dove, which went into the Drowa tree, which happened to be at that exact place. He closed the lid and carried the box, which was now very light, and continued on up the hill to Deyang and presented it to Chokpa Jangchub Palden.
Chokpa Jangchub Palden decided that at the place where the dove flew into the tree, a small monastery would be established, initially with 8 resident monks. This would be the beginning of Nechung Monastery. As a result, the founder of both Deyang Monastery and Nechung Monastery was Chokpa Jangchub Palden. In this way, the Deyang Monastery and Nechung Monastery have a very unique connection.
The majority of Deyang Monastery’s monks were unable to go into exile after 1959. Due to that, Deyang has not been reestablished. Now, the Nechung Kuten, Venerable Thupten Ngodrup has personally undertaken the responsibility to reestablish Deyang Monastery, with a main temple, monks’ quarters, and a room dedicated for the exclusive use of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has the support of H.H. the Dalai Lama, the Nechung Oracle, and the Office of Religion and Cultural Affairs for this project. The location of the new Deyang Monastery is adjacent to the reestablished Drepung Monastery in Mungod, Karnataka State, South India.