Lama Dawa Memorial Stupa

On this page you will find chronological updates on our progress building a memorial stupa on the grounds of P’hurba Thinley Ling, which houses the relics of Lama Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche.
To donate towards the Stupa:

The Benefits of Building a Stupa, by Chatral Sangye Dorje
Stupa Construction: Sept. 20 – Oct. 19, 2018
We will be organizing work parties to prepare the ground, to make 500 clay stupa molds (tsa tsas) filled with mantra rolls, to do the brick and mortar work of the stupa construction, and install the many different precious substances that will be housed in the stupa. If you would like to participate in any or all of this, please contact Khandro Kunzang: kunzang@saraswatibhawan.org. The construction will be supervised by our visiting Lama, Khandro Kamala.

Consecration Ceremony: Oct. 19, 2018

Consecration ceremony begins at 9:30 am, and is free and open to the public. Please join us to celebrate the life and teachings of our founding Guru, Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche. Food and drink will be served.

Timeline of Events:

Dec. 26, 2017 – Research for the Stupa construction begins in Nepal Lama Dawa Rinpoche’s family begin the research on stupa construction. The inspiration for building a traditional stupa on the grounds of Lama Dawa Rinpoche’s retreat center in Lansing, Iowa, was initiated by his brother, Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche. Rinpoche said it was not enough to have the countertop golden stupa to house Lama Dawa’s relics (which we had already purchased thanks to generous donors). Even though Lama Dawa Rinpoche was cremated in his homeland of Nepal, his center of Dharma activity was at P’hurba Thinley Ling in Lansing, Iowa. Lama Pema Dorje’s request was that P’hurba Thinley Ling should construct a traditional stupa to house Lama Dawa’s relics which would be a continual source of blessings for all who see it.
  Tulku Pema Rigzin Rinpoche oversees the stupa construction.
Following this advice, I (Khandro Kunzang) and Khandro Kalsang visited Khetsun Sangpo’s monastery in Sundarijal, Nepal, where they were in the midst of constructing a 17′ high stupa of the same type. This presented a golden opportunity to meet the great stupa builder, Tulku Pema Rigzin, who was overseeing the construction of this stupa. It was also a great opportunity to witness the construction of a stupa and all the precious articles that go inside. We were able to take photos, meet and interview Lamas and start to place orders for having some of the custom work done in Nepal.
  Khandro Kalsang with some of the copper sheets with etched prayers and rolls of mantra to go inside the stupa at Khetsun Sangpo’s monastery in Nepal.
  Some of the prepared mantra rolls and stupa tsas tsas that will go inside the stupa.

Jan., 2018: Meeting with Semo Norbu Sangmo
  Khandro Kalsang and Semo Norbu Sangmo in front of Karti Lajong’s memorial stupa.
In order to determine the right size stupa for our location, we visited numerous stupas in the Boudhanath area. Finally, we visited with Norbu Sangmo, the daughter of the late tsa-lung master, Karti Lajong Rinpoche (disciple of Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche), who built a similar memorial stupa after her father’s parinirvana. The stupa was the exact size that we had in mind. Semo-la referred us to the metalsmiths that were used to fashion the copper spires and top, as well as the copper ornamentation around the top statue. In addition, we decided that we will make copper snow lion ornaments instead of painting them, as they were done on this stupa. After the cost estimates were made from the metalsmiths, we organized a successful fundraising campaign on facebook to raise the money for their work. In addition, family members donated money for the gold that will be used for plating the copper.
Jan. 2018: Meeting with Tulku Pema Rigzin Rinpoche Rinpoche was very kind to meet with us on several occasions to give advice and instruction for the stupa size and also for the Drimed Namnyid mandalas that go in the second section of the stupa. These mandalas are specially commissioned to be etched on copper plates, and are placed within glass boxes, and surrounded by the outer and inner offerings for the deity. Rinpoche gave us a copy of an architectural drawing of a 12′ stupa in the correct proportions, and gave us instructions for all the articles we needed to obtain for the mandalas. Although these mandalas are usually consecrated once they are assembled, he agreed to pre-assemble our mandalas and consecrate them, then we could disassemble them and have all the things shipped to Iowa for reassembly later.
  One of the Drimed Namnyid mandala diaramas inside the protective glass box.
Here is a photo of one of the assembled mandalas inside their protective glass case. Around the mandala are the outer and inner offerings and different herbs placed in conch shells. Two of these mandala diaramas are stacked on top of each other and placed in the second section of the stupa (above the base layer which houses treasure vases). On top of this is placed the sog-shing, or life pillar.
  In April the shipping crates with the Drimed Namnyid mandalas arrive at our center in Iowa for unpacking.
After the etched copper mandalas were made and all the articles were collected, Rinpoche assembled them and consecrated them. Then they were shipped to P’hurba Thinley Ling.
Making of the Cremation Tsa Tsas Part of the forty-nine day funeral ceremonies following Lama Dawa Rinpoche’s parinirvana include making special stupa tsa tsas out of the cremation ashes. Special clay is mixed with ashes and bone relics taken from the funeral pyre and formed into stupas. Then they are painted and gilded with gold, then consecrated as part of the ceremonies. These tsa tsas will be placed inside the memorial stupa, along with some of the ringsel (relics) which were found in the ashes.
  Some of the relics found in the ashes after the cremation of Lama Dawa Rinpoche.

Jan. 2018: Meeting with Sengdak Tulku Rinpoche
  Lama Jigme Damcho (right) and I meet with Sengdak Tulku (left) over lunch to discuss the stupa construction.
Upon the recommendation of Tulku Pema Rigzin, we meet with Sengdak Tulku Rinpoche about the mantra rolls and other details for the stupa construction. Sengdak Tulku Rinpoche is an expert on stupa construction and works closely with Tulku Rema Rigzin. He travels the world to supervise the construction of many kinds of stupas. At this meeting we also make a formal request for him to come to our center in Iowa to guide us in the construction of the stupa and to perform the final consecration ceremony.
  Copper plates with the Choyin Dzod inscribed on them.
Sengdak Tulku will personally oversee making many of the important components of the stupa. He will make twenty etched copper plates with the Choyid Dzod inscribed on them, as well as five sets each of Vajrakilaya, Chenrezig, Guru Rinpoche, Vajrasattva, Tara, Dorje Drollo, Guru Dragpo, Buddha, and Manjushri, for a total of seventy copper plates. Many times these images of the deities and their mantra are made with laminated paper. But following the advice of Tulku Pema Rigzin, we decided to make them out of copper plates instead, for their precious quality and their longevity. We used the remainder of the donation money from Lama Dawa’s cremation services to cover the cost of these. In addition, it was also decided that his monastery will make the mantra rolls. This is a very time consuming job which needs to be done correctly. Many Dharma centers take on this job of rolling thousands of strips of paper with special mantras printed on them. It can take months. Since Rinpoche’s monastery has experience with this, and knows how to adjust according to the size of our stupa, we decided to have this job done in Nepal.
June 2018 The mantras rolls are complete and Sengdak Tulku and eight Lamas perform the ‘zung-drub’ consecration ceremony which lasts three days. The mantra rolls are now ready for shipping to Iowa.  
June 21, 2018 The metalwork is nearing completion in Nepal. Here are photos of the copper work and some of the gold plating for the top and the ornamentation. Thanks to everyine who contributed to our Facebook fundraiser, we were able to complete this. Now we are waiting for them to be shipped to Iowa.     
August 2019 Shipment arrives! Four crates from Nepal arrived safely through customs, containing the finished zung (mantra rolls), the metal work, copper mantra and deity images, Treasure Vases and other necessary items for the stupa. The metalwork is absolutely beautiful – hand worked copper with gold plating, and etched images on pure copper sheets. ________________________________________________________________________ September Updates As Sengdak Tulku was unable to obtain a US visa, we invited Sangyum Kamala to preside over the final phases of the stupa construction and perform the rabney on October 19. Khandro Kamala was the Sangyum of the late Chatral Rinpoche, and is involved in numerous major stupa building projects throughout India and Nepal. We are very honored that she has accepted our request and look forward to hosting her here. Khandro Kamala will arrive at Phurba Thinley Ling on Oct. 14th.

Work progress:

The making of the ‘sog-shing’ or life pillar: The sog shing will be placed upright in the very center of the stupa. This special pillar will be made from a cedar tree that was located on the property. After performing the necessary ceremonies, it was cut and brought to a local sawmill to shape it. When cutting the tree, the east side has to be marked and maintained so that when the final pillar is placed inside the stupa, the east side of the pillar is facing east. After it dries, a double dorje will be carved on the bottom, and a stupa will be carved on the top end. Then it will be painted and mantras will be written with gold ink. TO DONATE TOWARDS THE STUPA PROJECT: Tsa Tsa We will be making 500 stupa shaped tsa tsas. These are made from clay which we have mixed with soil, rocks, water, and other materials gathered from hundreds of pilgrimmage places in the Himalayas. Foundation Work The foundation hole was dug down to frost line and after special ceremonies were performed, a cement footing was poured. After that the foundation walls were made.                                                                                                
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