The Venerable Yogi Pemba Dorje was born in 1964 in a Nepalese village on the border of Tibet
and left us in March 2012 following an accidental fall on the stairs.
From an early age he was attracted to religion and became a monk in a monastery of the Kagyupa tradition as a child. He was the disciple of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and sometimes followed him on his travels in Asia. At the age of 22 he returned his Lama vows because his vision of Tantric practice was not well suited to monastic discipline and to having to live with "playstation monks" (an expression of Yogi Pemba Dorje to describe the young Lama forced into the monastery by their family, who spend their days playing video games and show no religious quality ...).
Having had myself to be mocked by these kind of young "Lama" during my morning practices around the Swayanbunath Stupa, I can only understand it.
The Venerable Yogi Pemba Dorje was an advanced practitioner of Vajrakilaya
(Tibetan: Dorje Phurba ) and the only Tibetan religious I knew to wear a Phurba to his belt in everyday life. Yogi Pemba Dorje was a very friendly person of great modesty seeking neither money nor honors, as such he is worthy of the greatest respect in my view.
A Vajrakilaya Drubchen ritual.
A Vajarakilaya protective seal.
The house where Yogi Pemba Dorje lived.
Going upstairs at Yogi Pemba Dorje place.
The Buddha tree in front of the Yogi house.
Since 1988 Yogi Pemba Dorje lived as a hermit in a small hut, his only means of sustenance being the offerings made to him by the inhabitants of Swayambunath. He had spent many years pilgrimages (allway on foot!) In many sacred places of Tibet, Nepal and India, covering thousands of miles and often sleeping under the stars as did the pilgrims of old.
He had been affectionately nicknamed by the inhabitants of Swayanbunath Lama Rainbow
for he sometimes wore unorthodox multicolor outfits according to what was offered to him as clothes.
Yogi Pemba Dorje was a sincere and serious practitioner, who got up early and spent his days either meditating or circumnambulating around the Swayambhunath Stupa.
Despite his deprivation he took care of himself and always wore clean clothes.
Here is the Holy spring where Yogi Pemba Dorje took all his water.
Yogi Pemba Dorje was the only and last Yogi Tantric of Swayanbunath,
otherwise we only find "Saddhu for tourists" which is sad when we think that Swayambunath
is one the the oldest and most sacred Buddhist sites in the world ...
I met Yogi Pemba Dorje by chance in 2011 when he came to see me asking me to watch the turquoise and Dzi I wear, we began to discuss and immediately sympathized. He invited me to his home and seeing the state of destitution in which he lives I have a few hours later made the decision to help him materially and financially in addition to other humanitarian actions that Magiedubouddha.com finances.
On my next visit I asked Yogi Pemba Dorje if he would agree to make amulets for my site and to bless some items that I will sell on Magiedubouddha.comto raise funds and help him,
he immediately accepted and gave me the honor to entrust to me various sacred objects.
In March 2012 I had the sad surprise to discover that Yogi Pemba Dorje had returned very sick from the Kalachakra initiation of January 2012 in Bodh Gaya and that at the beginning of March he had fallen down the stairs next to his home, fractured his skull and died at the hospital 2 days later. The monastery that owned the hut where Yogi Pemba Dorje lived told me to take his things
and do what i wanted with it because he had no known family.
Here is a list of all material possessions of Yogi Pemba Dorje and what I did with it :
- a dozen prayer texts and some sacred pictures for visualizations
(offered for the most part to a young monk from Maitri Gompa)
- A meditation cape and some clothes
(I kept the religious clothes as relics and gave the rest to Mr Sonam Norbu)
- A "coleman" lamp (offered to Mr Sonam Norbu)
- Oil stove (offered to Mr Sonam Norbu)
- Some tools (I kept a forged billhook and gave the rest to Mr Sonam Norbu)
- A bit of Tsampa , rice and tea
(given to live animals around the Swayanbunath Stupa)
- some shells (I kept them)
- An ancient status of Buddha Amithaba (I kept it)
- Some amulets (I kept them)
- Prayer flags (put in the tree in front of the house)
- In a bag I discovered a small envellope containing Mani Rilbu made by the 3rd Karmapa (!!!) from the inscriptions (I kept it preciously)
- braids of hair of Yogi Pemba Dorje (which I kept as relics)
- The mala and Phurba of Yogi Pemba Dorje were stolen when he died at the hospital ...
I am thinking of having a series of commemorative medals / amulets made with the relics of Yogi Pemba Dorje andi m going tin the process of making a small commemorative cairn monument with his relics inside in my garden in France.
The prayer texts of Yogi Pemba Dorje.
Yogi Pemba Dorje and myself.
Receving amulets and blessed Mala from the Yogi.
Yogi Pemba Dorje blessing one last time the sacred objects he gave me for Magiedubouddha.com
This old Tibetan gentleman named Sonam Norbu was brought (at his request and on foot!)
by his family in Swayambunath to die there meditating in a sacred place.
Yogi Pemba Dorje discovered him living in the street and collected him although he himself was in almost total destitution. I was very touched by his gesture and by the fervor of this old Tibetan who practices the Dharma from evening to morning. Difficult to communicate with him however, because in addition to the fact that he does not speak Nepalese, he suffers from pronunciation problems (he stutters)
On the last day when I came to say goodbye to Yogi Pemba Dorje, I brought a big bag of warm and comfortable clothes and a sum of money for Mr Sonam Norbu,he was very surprised to get help and had tears in his eyes (me too ...).
He insisted on giving me one of his only possessions: a few slices of conch, coming from the ruins of a Tibetan monastery and having served as a base for large prayer wheels.
I promised myself to return to see him on each of my travels to try to help him
as I help Yogi Pemba Dorje.
Following the death of Yogi Pemba Dorje, Mr Sonam Norbu found himself without anyone to help him (except for a young Lama of the Benchen monastery who comes regularly to do his chore and one of his nieces who sometimes visits him).
I decided to use the money raised by the sale of the blessed objects by Yogi Pemba Dorje to support it and started by completely renovating his house in March 2012.
It was more than time, his "house" then consisted of a hut in blocks of 6 meters by 4,
with a roof made of pierced sheets placed on a frame in the process of collapsing !
The roof before, and after. I plugged all the holes and painted it white to make the inside
colder in hot season.
The inside, before and after renovation.
Unpacking new stainless cookware that we donated.
The outside of the house : before and after
Job done !
With Mr Sonam Norbu and one of this friends.
With Mr Sonam Norbu and Lama Keltsang (Abbot of Maitri Gompa, that own the land
where the house is located)
Mishaps during the house renovation...(sorry, mainly french language)
No taxi, so a few kilometers of walk with a big bag to bring clothes to Mr Sonam Norbu.
With Mr Sonam Norbu about 2 years after renovations, he look 15 years younger,
i found him busy working in his garden instead of just sitting covered in soot.
With the authorisation of the monastery we fixed the floor in front of the house
to stop water infiltrations.
Touching detail : Mr Sonam Norbu keep a small altar in his house with our photo.