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Lower Sange Monastery

Brief History of San Ge Shong Mago (Lower Wutun)

The original Tibetan Buddhist order of the Sange or Wutun temple was the Nyangma order. Originally Sange was a meditational site, inhabited by Guru's. The lower monastery site is the oldest in the valley, however it was originally a meditation site, then a temple was built and later this was converted into a monastery; monasteries are basically a place of teaching and residence for monks. The story surrounding the initial building of the temple has two versions, cuckoos are central in both stories.  The first version has a traveling High Lama passing through the area in winter. When he was passing through Sange, close to the meditation spot of the guru's he heard cuckoos. Cuckoos rarely call out in winter, so the high Lama was quite struck by this phenomenon and upon further investigation found Dong Kor Tsang in meditation. Impressed with his wisdom and learning the High Lama commissioned the site for the building of a temple. That next spring the original temple was erected. Dong Kor Tsang was reincarnated 8 times before turning over the temple to Drak Khar Ngak Rampa, it was at this time that they changed to the Gelugpa order.   The other version of the cuckoo story has the high Lama traveling through in an undisclosed season, the meditators turned into cuckoos and flew around the High Lama until he stopped to meditate on this strange occurrence. After the High Lama stopped and started to meditate, the cuckoo turned into Dong Kor Tsang and requested that the High Lama fund the building of a temple. which he did.

During the 8th incarnation of Dong Kor Tsang a king in another town, Nang Gun Yao developed a general dislike for Monks and ants. Having equal disdain for both he decided that he would kill them all. Drak Khar Ngak Rampa, a Buddhist monk employed by King Nang Gun Yao as his horse groomer and trainer was warned by several of his friends that his life was in danger.  Drak Khar hit upon a plan to escape. since he was an honorable person and not having a horse of his own he would need to travel by foot. With the King having all of the horses he felt that he needed a day or two head start. So he crafted a moving mannequin out of straw and clothing. He fastened the arms to various parts of the horse to look like he was in the horse stall grooming them, so as the horse would fidget the straw mannequin would move.

Mean while back at the temple in Sange, Dong Kor Tsang of the Nyangma order was getting tired of the life times of temple duty. He had a sense that he was going to get a visitor that he could sweet talk into taking over. He told his waitress that a visitor was coming that day and this visitor must be allowed to enter the residence. In the early after noon Drak Khar Ngak Rampa showed up at the door, dirty and disheveled from his travels by foot. The waitress decided not to let him enter, she probably fearing that this person was a bandit or some other type of interloper. In the evening, Dong asked the waitress if there had been any visitors, she replied after some intense questioning that yes indeed there had been a visitor, but she had refused him entry due to his appearance.  Angered he sent the waitress out to find this person; upon opening the door she found him meditating near the entry way and invited him in.

Upon entering he was afforded a bath, clean clothes and a hearty meal. Drak Khar Ngak Rampa and Dong Kor Tsang hit it off immediately. Dong Kor quickly realized that Drak Khar was a very high academic and fully capable of stewardship of the temple, Drak Khar desired the peace and safety of the temple. they immediately hatched a mystical plan to stop King Nang Gun Yao from killing all of the red ants and monks in red robes. They made a tsampa effigy of the king, placing it upon 9 Kusha grass mats. They meditated and chanted, periodically pulling a grass mat from the stack under the tsampa king. During their chanting the tsampa king started to lean forward, like he was bowing to them. by the time they had pulled the 6th grass mat from the stack the tsampa king's head was touching the top mat. At this instant, Dong Kor Tsang smashed the head of tsampa with a hammer; blood spurted from the tsampa kings head and at that same instant the real King Nang Gun Yao fell head first off of his galloping horse smashing his head upon a large bolder and died instantly. The King when he realized that Drak Khar Ngak Rampa had duped him was infuriated. Since he had no other horse groom he saddled the horse himself, and obviously he did not cinch the strap tight enough: he rode hard and long up the valley, eventually the combination of fatigue and improperly cinched saddle  lead to his down fall, or was it the chanting?

Drak Khar Ngak Rampa then took over the stewardship of the temple. He so valued learning that he decided to open a school of learning and the monastery was born. Mean while in the pure land a great artist of the deities, Bo Ho Karma dropped one of his paint brushes and it came to earth at Sange. Now Bo Ho Karma painted the deities in heaven or the pure land. When his brush landed on the valley floor all of the men in the valley became divinely inspired and started painting the deities, and this tradition continues to this very day.

There exist two conflicting times for the temple's conversion to a monastery. One is in the 12th century, during this time Drak Khar Ngak Rampa is said to have made the conversion. The other version has Drak Khar Ngak Rampa establishing the Lower monastery in 1706 in his 53rd year of life. this would somewhat align with the 8 reincarnations of Dong Kor Tsang. Having the original meditation site started in the 11th century and figuring 60 years per reincarnation would take us to the late 16th century. The 60 year cycle is what the Tibetan's refer to as a generation, versus the western view of a generation as 20 years. We hope to get this resolved with the translations of several published and one unpublished manuscript by the end of August 2006. It is generally accepted that Drak Khar Ngak Rampa converted the temple into a monastery and is also credited with the change to the Gelugpa or  Yellow sect.

The lay out of the Monastery compound

The monastery has only one entrance/exit to the main compound and this is located at the end of a cement drive from the old main road through the valley by the turn off to cross the valley to Ghomar Monastery & Village. The Wutun Cultural Store and Interpretive Center is located at the start of the cement drive to the main gate. To the left of the drive is a garden that has plenty of plants and some tables and benches for relaxation and a picnic if one is so inclined. To the right is the main stupa which has brass prayer wheels surrounding the main floor. In the front of the main compound wall are 8 stupas with identification plates on each of the 8 different types of stupas. Along the front wall of the main compound are more brass prayer wheels.

Once inside of the main gate you are greeted by the Maitreya Temple (Future Buddha) and the Assembly or Prayer Hall. To the right is the Bodhisatava Avalokiteshvara Temple; to the left is the kitchen and the Tsong Kapa temple. Behind the Maitreya Temple are the buld of the Monk's residences. The main alley way leads to the High Lama's offices and residences. Behind the High Lama's office is the Naga Temple. There is a separate stupa called the Victory Stupa in a space niched out of the main compound wall at the north west corner.

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