Spiritual programme

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6-Day Meditative Pilgrimage – March
From Monday, 19. March 2018
To Saturday, 24. March 2018
Location : Main gompa

Holy sites to be visited

  • Mahabodhi Tree & Temple: where the Buddha manifested enlightenment

  • Vulture's Peak: where the Buddha taught the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras turning the 3rd wheel of Dharma 

  • Nalanda: it is said to be one of the earliest universities in the world, founded in the 5th century, where renowned Buddhist scholars such as Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and Shantideva studied

  • Mahakala Cave: it is said the Buddha did ascetic practices here

  • Sujata: where the Buddha received food from a local girl reviving his strength  

  • Saptaparni Cave: where the first Buddhist Council took place

  • Gurupada Cave: where Mahakasiapa and other disciples of the Buddha meditated (very beautiful place)

  • Indasala Cave: where the Buddha taught the Sakkapantha Sutra

Making the most of our journey

At each site the group will be given important information about the site and led into different meditations and practices relevant to the place. During the first day of the course there will be a Dharma talk: Being a pilgrim versus being a tourist.

Pilgrimage needs faith. More faith, more happiness. Otherwise, we are just like tourists looking at ruins. Pilgrimage is not just going to holy places and taking pictures. We go to holy places for blessing, so it’s good to do practices at the different holy places.

Bodhgaya is not only the place where the Buddha showed the holy deed of achieving enlightenment under the bodhi tree but also where all the great pandits such as Nagarjuna and Asanga practiced and made so many prayers. Also many great enlightened beings and yogis from Tibet, China, Nepal and other countries came here and made many prayers to benefit us sentient beings so there would be unbelievable, unbelievable benefit for us to purify negative karma and accumulate merit as quickly as possible.

I think you are very fortunate to be able to come to Bodhgaya, where a thousand buddhas will descend, place their holy feet, display holy deeds, and achieve enlightenment. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth of the thousand buddhas. The rest of the buddhas will descend here and will also display the twelve deeds, and the holy deed, achieving enlightenment.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche



Mon 19th – Mahabodhi Stupa
Main meditation topic: Qualities of Buddha, Dharma & Sangha
1:30pm Checking in at Root Institute
2:15pm Welcome to Meditative Pilgrimage, explanation of visits.
2:45pm Day Pilgrimage to Mahabodhi Stupa
5:00pm Dharma talk about Pilgrimage versus being a tourist
6:00pm Dinner 
7:00pm Night Pilgrimage to Mahabodhi Stupa
Tue 20th – Vultures Peak & Nalanda University
Main meditation topic: Heart Sutra, emptiness
6:30am Pilgrimage to Vultures Peak (take away breakfast)
12:00pm Lunch at the Green Hotel Restaurant
1:30pm Pilgrimage to Nalanda University
6:00pm Dinner 
7:00pm Ts'og Guru Puja at Root Institute
Wed 21st – Mahakala & Sujata
Main meditation topic: Renunciation, Death & Impermanence
6:45am Morning meditation
7:30am Breakfast
9:00am Pilgrimage to Mahakala
12:00pm Lunch at Mahakala
2:00pm Pilgrimage to Sujata
4:00pm Return to Root Institute
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Buddhist class with Geshe Rabga (optional)
Thu 22nd – Saptaparni Cave
Main meditation topic: Bodhichitta
6:45am Morning meditation
7:30am Breakfast
8:30am Pilgrimage to Saptaparni
12.00pm Lunch at Saptaparni
3:00pm Return to Root Institute
6:00pm Dinner
Fri 23rd – Indasala Cave
Main meditation topic: 4 Noble Truths
6:45am Morning meditation
7:30am Breakfast
9:00am Pilgrimage to Indasala cave
12:00pm Lunch at Indasala Cave (take away from Root)
4:00pm Return to Root Institute
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Buddhist class with Geshe Rabga (optional)
Sat 24th – Gurupada Cave
Main meditation topic: Precious Human Rebirth, Love & Rejoicing
6:30am Pilgrimage to Gurupada (take away breakfast)
12:00pm Lunch at Gurupada (take away from Root)
1:30pm Dedication prayers – end of pilgrimage
3:30pm Return to Root
Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.

General information about the spiritual programme

Our spiritual programme now runs from beginning of September through to end of April.

On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:

  • Tara puja
  • Medicine Buddha puja
  • Lama Ch'opa ts'og offering
  • Protector puja

Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all spiritual programme events except Drop-in sessions, Festival of Lights & Merit, and Mahabodhi Stupa events.

To book your own individual or group retreat, please go to Bodhgaya's blessings > Retreat – at Stupa Garden of Compassion, through which you can also book accommodation.