Purifying Negativities; the Akshobhya Fire Puja

Tergar Shrine Room Portico,
February 7, 2020

Once more, Andzin Rinpoche led the annual Akshobhya fire ritual offered on the penultimate day of the Monlam.

Buddha Akshobhya is the Imperturbable One, who vowed endless patience, and now symbolises overcoming such negative emotions as anger and hatred. Hence, the Akhshobhya Puja is a powerful purification ritual, and the bonfire is built over a pacification mandala. Only those who have received the Akhshobhya empowerment and completed the Akhshobhya retreat may take part, though the public can watch from a distance. During the Monlam, there is the opportunity to submit the names of both the living and the dead, written on paper, for inclusion in this ritual. For many, this puja has become a deeply significant memorial for loved ones and friends who have died, or a chance to help clear obstacles for those who are living.

1. Andzin Rinpoche officiates at the ritual on the portico outside Tergar Shrine Room.

 

2. The other participants sit facing him on the portico.

 

3. The special Chinese-style scroll thangka of Akhshobhya Buddha which was painted by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. Akhshobhya is in the wisdom Buddha family hence the blue colour of his body.

 

4. Outside, a ritual bonfire has been prepared over a pacification mandala, ready for later in the puja.

 

5. Rinpoche sits at a special table. On top of the table there is a symbolic representation of the pure land and palace of Akhshobhya Buddha.

 

6. After the invitation prayers have been completed, the offerings begin. The eight auspicious symbols are offered – the sacred knot, the Dharma wheel, the lotus, the victory banner, the parasol, the vase, the conch, and golden fish.

 

7. Here Andzin Rinpoche receives the parasol to offer it.

 

8. Torma offering

 

9. A small fire is lit on the altar for the burnt offerings

 

10. These include auspicious substances: a selection of grasses, grains and seeds with special medicinal or sacred properties, including white mustard seed, durva grass,sindhura, and gorachana.

 

11. The fire blazes on the shrine.

 

12. Rinpoche feeds the flames with oil…

 

13. and offers the precious substances.

 

14. He uses a rolled sheet of paper to transfer the flame from the shrine to the fire outside.

 

15. As the bonfire takes hold, Rinpoche starts feeding the papers of names into the flames.

 

16. The purifying fire blazes…

 

17. until all the papers of names have been consumed.

 

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37th Kagyu Monlam Schedule

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Recorded during the 37th Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India. January 28-30, 2020.