The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in southern Karnataka is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama. Originally located outside of Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet, the monastery and its monks relocated to India after the Chinese invasion of 1959. The monastery was reconstructed in its new location in the Bylakuppe Settlement where it maintains its traditions and knowledge for future generations.
The Abbot of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
When Khen Rinpoche Tsetan, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, learned about the Himalayan Institute’s Energy Farming project at the Rabgayling settlement, he was eager to bring the model to his community. In 2009, the Institute was honored to host Khen Rinpoche at its US headquarters in Honesdale, PA. During his visit, Khen Rinpoche toured the Institute’s vegetable garden and Energy Farming demonstration plot where medicinal and biofuel crops are being cultivated. The techniques used in these gardens are the same techniques that are promoted in all of the Energy Farming projects in Cameroon, Mexico, and the Tibetan Settlements. During this visit, plans were made to bring the Energy Farming program to the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.
Institute Members Help Start a New Plantation
In 2010, as part of a larger spiritual excursion to some of India’s holiest sites, Himalayan Institute members traveled to the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The group joined the robed monks of the monastery and helped to make a new pongamia plantation. Afterwards, one HI member recalled, “To see and be part of living spirituality—it was the best part of the trip.” When these small trees reach maturity, they will do more than provide a steady source of biofuel; adult trees create shade and fix nitrogen in the soil, revitalizing marginal land into thriving fields.
A new monastery is being constructed next to the plantation, and it is envisioned that the monks will be able to use the grove of pongamias as a peaceful, shaded place for study and meditation. The new plantation will also serve as a model for how other schools, monasteries, and community groups can get involved in Energy Farming.
As the Energy Farming project expands at the Tibetan Settlements and around the world, it is partnerships like this one that will make this new growth possible and long lasting. Trees need long-term care in order to grow to maturity, which is why establishing good working relationships with individuals and communities is so important for the long-term success of the Energy Farming project.