School resumes after a six-week holiday. Many of the children had gone home to their families.
The school seems happy to have them back!
Long-Life Ceremony for Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche
Today, a Long-Life ceremony was held at Sakya Academy by its staff and students in celebration of Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche's 40th Tibetan Birthday. They were joined in their homage to Rinpoche by representatives of Sakya Centre.
The ceremony auspiciously coincided with the completion of Rinpoche's long Hevajra retreat.
All rejoiced from the bottom of their hearts as they wished Rinpoche a long and fruitful life.
Maintaining our School
Following their early morning Sunday puja, the senior boys set out to clean the land adjoining the school's entrance driveway.
Others tend to the flower beds that they so lovingly planted.
In the meantime, our younger monks weed their beloved football field.
Two hours of their free weekend time, cheerfully offered by our students to beautify their school.
Buddhist Philosophy Class
This afternoon was the first of a series of daily classes in Buddhist Philosophy given to our senior students by Khenpo Dagyab from Sakya College.
It had been a long time since our students had been yearning for this kind of learning, and it was remarkable to see how fixedly their attention was pinned to Khenpo Dagyab's every word.
One of their special ambitions is to learn the art of Buddhist debate.
"Buddhism: What and Why?"
Our monks began their day with an early morning performance of the Sixteen-Arhat puja.
Following this, they attended an eye-opening talk by Gen Tenzin Choephak Ringpapontsang, a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy and a scholar in the history of the Sakya Tradition.
The talk broached the subject of religion, in particular Buddhism, and its relevance in our lives, placing an emphatic stress on tolerance towards other religions, beliefs and ideas.
The gathering took the form of an audio-visual presentation and held the students' interest captive for a full two hours.
This morning, our newly appointed prefects, captains and monitors took an oath to carry out their duties to the best of their ability.
2nd Founder's Day
In Celebration of Jetsunma's Birthday
Today was a big day for Sakya Academy. The school celebrated its 2nd Founder's Day, as well as the 7th Birthday of Jetsunma Ngawang Tsejin Lhamo Sakya.
On the occasion, special guests from Sakya College, Sakya Centre, Sakya Nunnery and Sakya Dolma Phodrang graced the school with their presence.
The children put up excellent performances, outstanding among which was the reenactment of the compassionate killing of the evil king Langdarma by the monk Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje.
Prizes were given to the best achievers in the recently sat final exams, with top grades ranging from the mid 80% to the mid 90%.
Inspiring speeches were made, in particular one in which Dagmo Kushok abundantly praised the children, while exhorting them to keep striving in pursuit of a brilliant future both for themselves and for the Glorious Sakyapa.
An especially touching moment was the contribution of Gen Dradul la putting into words the unique family bond that unites the children with Rinpoche and Dagmo Kushok, and according to which they look to Dagmo Kushok as their very mother.
The ceremony ended with the celebration of Jetsunma's birthday, with the traditional song performed by our younger monks in Tibetan, English, Korean, German and Chinese!
Finally, guests and staff were regaled with an elaborate lunch, elegantly served by our very own students.
Well done, everyone!!!
Keeping Our School Clean
This morning our children did a lot of hard work cleaning up our school. From garden maintenance to draining clogged drainpipes, to clearing up detritus on the boundary grounds.
Everyone gladly did their part.
Today, our children were treated to a well-deserved day off at the nearby Sahastradhara mountain water pools.
Lovely weather, laughter everywhere, and a few goosepimples - the pool water comes straight from a mountain waterfall, and it is invigorating, to say the least!
Tibetan Birthday of Jetsunma Tsejin Lhamo
The 7th Tibetan Birthday of Jetsunma Ngawang Tsejin Lhamo was celebrated this morning at the Sakya Nunnery.
And in the afternoon, a puja was held in her honour by our monks at Sakya Academy.
End of the Academic Year
Our monks have been sitting their final exams and, save for a few exceptions, they have all done very, very well.
They are now on a 2-week holiday, during which they have requested to learn to learn the Gharpa Sarpa Vajrakilaya cham as well as playing the gyaling. As an introduction to this challenging instrument, they are learning to play the flute.
They still need to prepare for their upcoming Scriptures exam, for which they are working very hard.
And our veggie garden is growing... and growing... and growing.
Tibetan Birthday of Khöndung Siddharth Vajra Rinpoche
This morning, Sakya Centre hosted the Three-Deity Long-Life Puja to celebrate the 4th Tibetan Birthday of Dungsey Siddharth Vajra Rinpoche.
And in the afternoon, our Sakya Academy monks adeptly performed the same Long-Life Puja in Rinpoche's honour.
New Year of the Earth Dog 2145
On the occasion of this New Tibetan Year, Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche and his family extend their warmest wishes of joy, happiness and prosperity to everyone near and far.
Happy Losar, and may all aspirations be fulfilled!
Celebrating Losar at the Academy
Everyone participated in welcoming the New Year with joy and auspiciousness. The children went to great lengths to decorate their hostel with balloons and thoughtful posters, while a puja was held in the prayer hall on Losar Day.
Conclusion of the Teacher Training Programme at Sakya Academy
Today marked the conclusion of two important programmes held at our school.
It was a great pleasure for us to welcome 5 trainees from the Sarah Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, who completed their two-week internship at our school. It was a boon for us to enjoy, and benefit from, their presence during this time.
Also, we were privileged to benefit from the visit of Gen. Mingchung la from the Upper TCV School in Dharamsala. Gen Mingchung la was kind enough to share his expertise with our teachers and trainees in a week-long workshop on the teaching of the Tibetan language in primary schools.
Certificates were distributed in a simple but significant ceremony, during which Dagmo Kushok Sonam Sakya shared Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche's and her own vision of the goals of Sakya Academy. Participants voiced their espousal of this vision, and their conviction that it is the way forward for the Sakya Tradition to grow and best benefit beings.
Over their winter holiday, our children also dedicated time and effort to planting a new vegetable garden, a flower garden, and 1000 shrubs to embellish the school driveway and buildings. Not only this, but they initiated a compost heap to nourish their gardens' soil and also to dispose sensibly of organic matter.
Their garden already provides the children with two days' worth of vegetables per week. They are looking to becoming self-sufficient for their veggies within the year. This saves their school a considerable amount of money, and the children are thrilled that they can make such an significant contribution.
First Tara Puja in the Prayer Hall
Today our monks celebrated the first of the Tara Pujas that are to be celebrated every Sunday in the Prayer Hall. They also practised the Mahavairocana Puja.
Our students recently had a 21-day winter break, and filled it to capacity with constructive activities. Outstanding among these was the learning to perform the Tara, Sixteen-Arhat, Mahavairocana and Mahakala Pujas. An extraordinary feat!
What's more, they requested Michael Sir, our dedicated volunteer from the USA to give them English fluency classes. After a long absence, Michael has brought joy to everyone at Sakya Academy by joining us again for 3 months.
Dagmo Kushok's Birthday
All the children gathered in the prayer hall for a surprise celebration of Dagmo Kushok's birthday, and regaled her with song and dance performances.
21st December 2017
The children showed the best of their talents, displaying works that included a true-to-life portrait of Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, an arresting rendering of a fierce deity, and a remarkable maquette of Sakya Academy.
Everyone made the school proud.
23rd November 2017
Amitayus Long-Life Puja
for His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin
Today, on the occasion of the 43rd Tibetan Birthday of His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin, Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche conducted the Amitayus Puja in the school Prayer Hall.
Early this morning, our senior monks greeted Rinpoche at his residence and escorted him to the temple for the celebration of the ceremony. This was an important moment for all our monks, particularly for those whose first time it was to be led in prayer by Rinpoche.
The ceremony ended with the cutting of the celebratory cake by Rinpoche.
14th November 2017
A gleeful morning as our teachers performed songs, dances and sketches for our children. These were greeted by enthusiastic cheers and applause.
The celebrations continued with a picnic at the nearby Mindrolling Stupa, a new and overwhelming experience for all.
6th November 2017
This morning, Sakya Academy held its 2nd Annual Inter-House Sports Competition. It featured a riveting performance from the part of every student at the school, opening with an extraordinary performance of a perfectly synchronised march and followed by various races that were hotly contested by the school's four houses - green, yellow, red and blue. Although the Green House carried away both of the meet's two trophies, members of all the houses revealed themselves to be real winners both in performance and in spirit. True sportsmanship won the day.
(Click here to watch the slideshow)
21st September 2017
Amitayus Long-Life Puja
for His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin
This morning, on the occasion of the 73rd Tibetan Birthday of His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin, Gongma Trichen Rinpoche, the Amitayus Long-Life Puja was celebrated in the new Sakya Academy prayer hall.
This was the first time that the new temple was being used. It was also the first time for most of our student monks to be participating in a ritual, and their long hours of scripture studies were reflected in their fluent performance of the puja.
This represents a huge step taken by Sakya Academy towards the fulfilment of its aspiration to be a true Monastic School, where a world-class academic education merges with a meaningful religious formation and where the invaluable treasures of the Sakya Tradition are preserved in their full integrity for the benefit of beings.
5th September 2017
Today, our student monk repaid the kindness of their teachers by delighting them with a first-class show of song, dance, poetry and elocution.
Everyone there to enjoy the show was astonished by the performers' talents and the professionalism displayed by the senior monks in orchestrating the entire programme.
Special thanks were offered to our Principal Ma'am Tsering la for being a pillar of wisdom and a guiding light to all.
Although Rinpoche and Dagmo Kushok were not able to attend, the event began with a touching recorded message from Dagmo Kushok, which set the tone for the rest of the celebration.
It was joyful, entertaining and touching. Bright smiles were on everyone's faces, and laughter won the day!
A wonderful occasion!
15th May 2017
Tenshug Offering at Sakya Centre
Our Sakya Academy monks participate in the Grand Tenshug Offering Ceremony held at the Sakya Centre in gratitude to His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin for his two-month bestowal of the holy Lamdre teachings.
8th to 12th May 2017
Child-based educational workshop at Sakya Academy
Organised by Deer Park Institute, Bir, an intense 5-day workshop engaged the enthusiastic participation of all our teaching staff members. Led by Child and Adolescent Psychologist Ms. Akshita Dutta, the workshop explored the core elements of cognitive development, social and emotional development, motor development, and language and communication development.
Our teachers were amazed to discover how deeply these essential educational principles are rooted in Buddhist philosophy. This was consolidated by sessions of mindfulness meditation, which teachers were in turn encouraged to actively use in their classrooms.
24th March to 14th May
Lamdre teachings at Sakya Centre
A group of some 60 Sakya Academy monks receive the Holy Lamdre teachings conferred by H.H. Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche at the Sakya Centre.
In celebration of Jetsunma Tsejin Lhamo Sakya's birthday
Sakya Academy celebrated its first birthday with a cultural programme that included poetry and music, and featured a captivating performance of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale 'Rapunzel', starring Jetsunma Tsejin Lhamo as the eponymous protagonist.
Prizes were given for last year's outstanding achievements, and Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche and Dagmo Kushok added their words of congratulations and appreciation to the occasion, addressed to staff and students alike.
The event concluded with the celebration of Jetsunma Tsejin Lhamo's sixth birthday.
His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin
H.E. Jetsunma Ngawang Tsejin Lhamo makes a precious and touching musical offering to His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trichen Rinpoche, and our Sakya Academy monks perform a remarkable rendition of the Sakya Lineage Prayer on the occasion of the Enthronement Ceremony of His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche in Puruwala.
Now it is the teachers' turn to perform for the children with a sketch and a song-and-dance performance. Our teachers surprise and amaze everyone with their outstanding talents.
The afternoon sees field games and the final of the Sakya Academy Football cup, with the Blue Team winning the day!
The teachers receive a well-deserved accolade for all their hard work and dedication.
The children repay their gratitude to them with the performance of songs, poems and speeches, all with impeccable rendition, and in three languages!
Welcoming Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche
Students and staff members greet Rinpoche and his family on their return home to Sakya Academy after completion of Rinpoche's Asian teaching tour.
Under the direction of teacher Dradul la, the children have been practising for months to perform the traditional Tashi Shopa welcome dance for Rinpoche.
Off on a picnic!
It's summer holiday, and the children take it in turns to spend the day at at nearby amusement park, a new and exhilirating experience.
The children first pay their respects to Dungsey Siddharth Rinpoche and Jetsunma Tsejin Lhamo, and then gather around as Michael helps Jetsunma plant a Bougainvillea to celebrate Earth Day. Dungsey Rinpoche performs an impromptu tree-blessing ritual.
First Week of School
Learning the basics.
Our children begin their first journey into the wondrous world of education.
For the younger ones, learning to count and to read and write in three languages is a challenging and exciting experience, while for the older ones an introduction to science, mathematics and general knowledge is a fascinating discovery.
Many of the children have suffered from malnutrition and have come to us with ailments including skin diseases. It is the first time that the newcomers receive medical attention.
11th April 2016
First day of school!
The children are elated as they receive their new textbooks; in many cases these are the first books that they have ever seen.
They spend their day dotingly covering them.
4th April 2016
Our teachers join the school and participate in an English Master Class and an Environmental Workshop, both expertly offered by Michael Weltzer, our dedicated volunteer teacher from the U.S.A.
Excellence in Leadership and Management Workshop
25th March 2016
A group of over 40 people, headed by Khöndung Ratna Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and comprising tulkus, khenpos, and heads of monasteries and associated institutions, took part in a workshop hosted by Sakya Academy. Co-organised by the Khyentse Foundation and the Sakya Centre, the workshop was designed to provide its participants with the key leadership and management skills necessary for a more efficient administration of their respective establishments.
10th January 2016
His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, H.E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche and H.E. Jetsun Kushok visit the Academy and spend three days of peace and quiet at Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche's residence at the school.
Sakya Academy opens its doors to its first students as 130 young monks transfer from Sakya Centre to their new home. They are soon joined by 60-plus children from Nepal.
The Building of Sakya Academy.
A long and challenging process.