The Sambhogakaya Buddha
The Sambhogakaya Buddha, an unusual representation of Shakyamuni Buddha, is instantly recognizable as the centrepiece at Thekchen Choling’s main hall. Styled after the Jowo Buddha at the Jokhang Temple in Tibet, it employs decorative motifs from the Vajrayana, Mahayana and Theravada traditions – a nod to the temple’s non-sectarian philosophy. Many believe that its arrival to Thekchen Choling in 2003 helped protect disciples from the SARS epidemic. Today, it continues to attract devotees from all over the world.
The first Giant Mani Wheel
The Giant Mani Wheel was first installed in 2003 at Thekchen Choling’s Bukit Timah premise. Standing at 3 metres high and measuring 1.38 metres in diameter, it contains more than two hundred million printed mantras such as Chenrezig’s “Om Mani Padme Hum.” According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, any person who turns a mani wheel in a clockwise direction is blessed as though having recited all these mantras themselves.
The Mani Wheel was re-consecrated in November 2007 at the temple’s current location. Newly printed mantras and precious items such as brocades and gems were placed inside it. Its presence serves as a blessing for the area and creates boundless merits for those who turn it faithfully.
Did you know: There are a total of 218,844,788 mantras in the Giant Mani Wheel.
For more story on Thekchen Choling’s Giant Mani Wheel, click here.
The Largest Shakyamuni Buddha Appliqué Thangka in Southeast Asia
Thekchen Choling is home to a beautiful appliqué thangka depicting Shakyamuni Buddha serenely seated in the full lotus position on a throne, attended to by his two chief disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana. It is entirely hand-sewn from silk brocade, beads and sequins. When fully unveiled, the thangka stands at four-storey tall, making it the largest Shakyamuni Buddha thangka in Southeast Asia.
The Shakyamuni thangka is only unveiled on special occasions such as Vesak Day. The event has been featured in local media and attracts devotees from around the region. It is believed that simply gazing upon the image of Shakyamuni Buddha brings countless blessings and auspicious conditions for those who sincerely pay homage.
The Largest Appliqué Guru Rinpoche Thangka in Southeast Asia
In 2010, Thekchen Choling commissioned an appliqué thangka of Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava, “the Lotus Born”) from Nepal for the long life of the Gurus. The thangka depicts Guru Rinpoche accompanied by Shakyamuni Buddha, Lama Je Tsongkhapa and his two key spiritual consorts Princess Mandarava and Lady Yeshe Tsogyal. Standing at a height of seven-storey tall, it is the largest Guru Rinpoche thankga in Southeast Asia; more than 20 men are required to carry it.
It was unveiled for the first time in 2011 on Guru Rinpoche Day, i.e., the tenth day of the sixth lunar month.
Did you know: Guru Rinpoche has one main form and eight other manifestations. The main form is depicted in the thangka.
Singapore’s Largest Tibetan Style 1,000 Armed Chenrezig
Standing at 2.3 metres, the Tibetan-style Thousand- Armed Chenrezig rupa is the largest of its kind in Singapore. It is crafted from copper and gilded with mercury gold. Thousand-Armed Chenrezig symbolises the Buddhas’ boundless compassion for all sentient beings – his 1,000 arms with an eye on each hand and eleven heads are to see and help those in need.
The rupa at Thekchen Choling was offered by a devotee who felt a special connection with Thousand-Armed Chenrezig. She sold off her jewelry collection to raise the funds needed to make the rupa. It was subsequently consecrated at the temple with the generosity of Sangyum Namdrol Lhamo.
Singapore’s Only Mig-Chenrezig
Mig Chenrezig is a form of Chenrezig found only in Tibetan Buddhism, and is a rarity even within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Little about Mig Chenrezig is documented in texts as information related to him and his practice is passed down only in the oral tradition.
Thekchen Choling’s Mig Chenrezig is the only one in Singapore. It was specially commissioned in line with the temple’s aim to be a sanctuary of healing, as Mig Chenrezig’s main activity is healing, especially eye ailments. Today, the temple has successfully launched a series of healing programmes and festivals, of which Mig Chenrezig is one of the Patron Deities.
A 200-Year Old Jigong
When Thekchen Choling acquired its current premise from the previous occupants (custodians of a Jigong temple), one of the sacred objects it inherited from them was a Jigong rupa.
Jigong is a highly realised Bodhisattva known for his eccentric personality and “crazy wisdom”, while maintaining a compassionate nature. Physical evidence places the approximate age of the rupa at 200 years. Devotees from as far away as Taiwan have made their way to Thekchen Choling to pay their respects. One even requested for it. However, Lama kindly declined the offer as he is committed to ensuring that the Jigong rupa will always have a special place at Thekchen Choling.
Artefacts and Relics from Realised Masters
When realised Buddhist masters manifest passing away, they leave behind precious relics after their cremation. These relics are then collected and safeguarded and may subsequently be distributed among the masters’ students or kept at select monasteries. It is believed by many that gazing upon holy relics is the same as gazing upon the Buddha himself.
Thekchen Choling displays the holy relics and artefacts received over the years from various masters and Buddhist institutions. These include the relics of Shakyamuni Buddha, the hair of the 13th Dalai Lama, the relics of the 3rd and 16th Karmapas and the relics of the late Geshe Lama Konchog, among other treasures.
Did you know: Some holy relics miraculously continue to grow and multiply over time, a sign of the high realisations attained by the Masters.