In 1999, His Holiness Drigung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche had the vision and the intention to build a stupa in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha Shakyamuni. His Holiness entrusted Drubwang Sönam Jorphel Rinpoche, the heart disciple of the realized Mahasiddha Chunga Rinpoche and meditation master from Ladakh, with the implementation and officially authorized him to build the stupa according to the Drigung Kagyud tradition. The Tara Foundation acquired a plot of land in the Monastic Zone of Lumbini by leasing and provided the necessary financial resources for the entire project. Within a short period of time, highly qualified and dedicated local professionals were recruited to support the project from the beginning and to be available until completion and beyond.
From the beginning, there was a vision to build a stupa representing a mandala over a meditation hall. Since the stupa was to be built at the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, it was obvious that it should be a lotus stupa. This is because among the eight types of such monuments symbolizing different activities and phases in the life of the Awakened One, the lotus stupa represents the birth of Buddha. Since Sonam Jorphel Rinpoche’s religious background is the teaching tradition of the Drigung Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the stupa was planned according to the writings of the famous Drigung master Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpa, the 1st Chungtsang Rinpoche, who lived from 1595-1659.
The construction, the special situation and the people involved
The construction work for the „Great Lotus Stupa“ in Lumbini officially started in May 2000, while the country was in the middle of a civil war. Therefore, it was not only very difficult to find highly skilled workers with different qualifications, but also to keep them together over a longer period of time and to inspire them permanently for the project. The Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), the official representative of the Nepalese government, was supportive from start to finish.
The official inauguration in 2004
For the first time since the occupation of Tibet by Chinese troops, all the major dignitaries of the Drigung Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, together with a large number of their monks and nuns from all parts of the world, gathered in Lumbini in 2004 to witness the ceremonial inauguration of the stupa complex, led by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche. The ceremony was extremely atmospheric and brought the efforts of four years to a temporary end. It also set the signal to permanently maintain and energize the monument to give the resident monks, countless pilgrims, and other visitors a place of unique spiritual value and radiant beauty.
After completion 2004 – 2023
Since its official opening in 2004, the Drikung Kagyu Dharmaraja Foundation (DKDF), a local organization, has dedicated itself to the preservation of the stupa. It receives the necessary financial support from the Tara Foundation on a quarterly basis. The fact that there is no deterioration or wear and tear on this religious monument to date is due to the dedicated attention and activity of this organization.
At present, a group of monks from the Drigung Rinchen Palri Monastery (Kathmandu) permanently reside on the „Great Lotus Stupa“ premises, having received profound training in all areas of Buddhist theory and practice, and daily attend to their religious duties.
In addition, a multi-day prayer for world peace has been held annually at the „Great Lotus Stupa“ since 2006. The stupa complex – a peaceful and beautiful site at the birthplace of the historical Buddha in one of the most important places of Buddhism – has now grown into a place of pilgrimage, regularly visited by many thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world.