For more than a thousand years thanka paintings have served an essential role in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Meticulously created by exceptional artists, thankas not only serve as sacred objects of veneration and meditation, but as historical sources that document important people and events. Due to the kindness and foresight of many great teachers, we still have thankas today that ensure our dharma lineages are recorded and remembered.
There are many teachers who have commissioned thankas in the past. In order to benefit the Karma Kagyu lineage, the 8th Tai Situpa Chogyi Jungne began the golden chain of Karma Kagyu lineage thankas. This similarly happened in the Drikung Kagyu lineage among many others. Until now, however, the reincarnation lineage of Terchen Barway Dorje has only been recorded in words through a lineage prayer. There has never been a complete series of thanka paintings depicting his successive incarnations starting from the Bodhisattva Marutse during Sakyamuni Buddha’s time through the 2nd Barway Dorje in 20th century Tibet. Many of these incarnations have been important contributors to many Kaygu and Nyingma lineages.
As the 16th Karmapa recognized me as Barway Dorje’s reincarnation, I strongly feel that it is my responsibility to secure the legacy of those who preceded me and make their blessings accessible to future beings. Although I have no conception of myself as special in any way, the previous Barway Dorje Rinpoches and their predecessors truly benefitted numerous beings by upholding the Buddha Dharma through many different lineages. Therefore, I believe their good works and contributions should be recorded now while there are still people who remember them. Otherwise, the knowledge is in danger of being lost, which is a problem now facing many lineages. Some lineages have become only a name while others are left with pieces of history and a few lineage holders. Seeing that this is a real danger, I want to do everything I can to avoid this happening to Barway Dorje’s lineage and reincarnation history. Therefore, I am asking everybody to help me in accomplishing this meaningful project.
As many of you know, thanka painting is a highly specialized and refined craft that requires years of training. A single thanka requires months of work by a skilled artist. The final painting is a priceless sacred work that will last for many generations. It is a most worthy investment and one that we now have a precious opportunity to support. To be a patron of enlightened activity is a truly meaningful way to use one’s resources. It will cause benefit now and in the future for oneself and others. Therefore, please consider this opportunity to be a rare and very fortunate occasion. There is no minimum or maximum amount of offering required. If one contributes whatever they can and rejoices at the virtue being accomplished, it is as meritorious as fully sponsoring the project.
There are eighteen lineage thankas in all, and each one of them can be sponsored in full or in part. When completed, the paintings will reside at Kunzang Palchen Ling in New York to benefit beings for generations to come. High-resolution copies can also be made to display at our satellite centers if students wish. Please see the accompanying drafts for specific information on each thanka. Thank you. Sarva Mangalam!
Yours in the Dharma,