Geshe Pema Dorjee
Tibetan Lama Geshe Pema Dorjee has dedicated his life to helping disadvantaged people in the Himalayan region. There, he has organised numerous charitable projects with emphasis on the poor, the elderly, street children, the sick and the disabled. He currently runs many charitable projects including support for education, community improvement, health and environmental development. Among these is the establishment of the Tara Bodong sponsored Lumla Bodong Nunnery/ Girls’ School in Lumla, Arunachal Pradesh, India. For many years Geshe Pema Dorjee has given teachings, lectures, workshops and individual counsel to a great number of students and supporters around the world to raise funds for his many deserving causes. Tara Bodong is part of a network of small charitable organisations that support Pema Dorjee’s mission.
Geshe Pema Dorjee was born in 1951 to a nomadic family in Shillong on the border of Tibet and India. Like many other Tibetan families of the time, they found refuge in India after they were forced to flee in 1959 after the invasion of the country. After many years of study at the Tibetan Homes Foundation School and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, Pema Dorjee became Principal and later Director of the Tibetan Children´s Village School (TCV), a school for 2,500 refugee children. In 1995, as a result of his continued studies in Buddhist philosophy he was awarded the Geshe degree (equivalent to a Ph.D.) from the Drepung Loseling monastery. In 1989, at the behest of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, Geshe Pema Dorjee together with friends and supporters established Pelmo Choeding Monastery in exile (in Kathmandu, Nepal) one of the great legacies in the history of the Bodong tradition. In 2003 he founded the Bodong Research and Publication Center near Thekchen Choeling Temple, Mcleod Ganj in Dharamsala and he became its director.
Goddess Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess – the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life.
In Sanskrit, the name Tara means Star but she was also called She Who Brings Forth Life, The Great Compassionate Mother, The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress. Adopted by Buddhism, she become the most widely revered deity in the Tibetan pantheon. In Buddhist tradition Tara is actually much greater than a goddess, she is a female Buddha – an enlightened one was has attained the highest wisdom, capability and compassion.
Geshe Pema Dorjee was asked by HH the Dalai Lama to revive and promote the Bodong Tradition which is one of the oldest traditions in Buddhism. Although it is a fundamental part of Buddhism, most of the lineage, oral transmissions and instructions have nearly vanished. It was while he was researching the roots of Bodong that Geshe Dorjee discovered Lumla and the urgent need to help the local community there.
Tara Bodong’s fundraising activities started spontaneously in June 2010 with a charity stall at the Summer Fair organised by the IPS Violenschool (International Primary School) in Hilversum, during a visit by our co-founder, Siri Weirum.
She had just arrived from her home in Dharamsala to visit her family. She brought photos from her recent trips with Tibetan Lama Geshe Pema Dorjee to Lumla. They met people living in severe poverty, many of them suffering from chronic illnesses. Siri was especially affected by the dire situation of the young girls. In these communities, the girls are given the responsibility of caring for the family and have to work long hours cooking, cleaning and taking care of their siblings. They also become mothers very young. Since his first visits to the area, Pema Dorjee had already seen that an education would provide these girls with a chance to have a better life for themselves and their families. Siri supported the idea whole heartedly and started actively raising funds with friends and family here in Hilversum and in her native country Norway.