On the 5th February His Eminence the Sakya Gongma Rinpoche travelled to Nepal to the main Buddhist stupa and on the morning of the 7th of February he attended the ceremony for the cremation of his tutor. On this morning, monks and lay people gathered to welcome his body on its short journey from his dormitory to the schoolyard where it was placed inside a funerary pyre erected for his cremation. His Eminence sat to the east of the pyre to pray while his eldest princess Rina Rinpoche sat to the south. To the west was Lodeng Khen Rinpoche, and to the north Jamyang Chen Tse Rinpoche. Princess Asanga Rinpoche, Tartse Khen Rinpoche and Gar Shob Drong Rinpoche were also present at the ceremony, as well as around two hundred monks and one thousand lay people.
The eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar is a very special time due to the high Lamas Sakya Pandit Kunga Gyaltsen, Dorgon Choegyal Puk Pa and Ajam Rinpoche, tutor of Aped Rinpoche, all passing away during this calendar month. It is during this time that Aped Rinpoche made prayers and offerings, and he declared the 22nd day to be a day of remembrance during which all devotees should refer to His Eminence Sakya Gongma Rinpoche. He added on the 23rd that if he were to pass away it should be kept secret and his body and dormitory should not be touched for three days. He left behind a letter detailing what should be done in the event of his death. Two years ago, when he began experiencing discomfort, he was told to seek medical attention from foreign doctors, and had been uncomfortable in his health ever since.
He previously spent five years in reclusion and prayer in Yanglashoe, holy place within Buddhism, and at the request of his students he founded Nepal's National Buddhism University in 2001, and began teaching there. He passed away at the age of eighty four.
Report by Jamyang Tenzin, The Tibet Post International