Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Maratika Caves, April 2017. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

On his recent trip to Nepal, Lama Zopa Rinpoche visited the Maratika Caves, an important holy site associated with Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche).

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has visited Maratika on pilgrimage before and spoken about how good it is to do practice there. There are a number of caves in the area but the main cave for pilgrims is the Maratika Treasury Cave. It is here that Guru Rinpoche, with his Indian consort Mandarava, is said to have achieved immortality through the practice of Amitayus. In the main cave, there is a long-life vase (Tib. tse bum) made of stone, which Amitayus is said to have placed on the heads of Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava to bestow immortal life. This vase is the most holy object at Maratika. The cave also contains many self-created (Tib. rang jung) images and syllables. As well, it is considered that many spiritual treasures are hidden there. Texts say, for example, that Buddha Amitabha taught the eighteen tantras of long life at the request of Avalokiteshvara; dakinis wrote these down in symbolic script using melted lapis lazuli on golden paper, put them in a box made of five precious jewels, and concealed them at Maratika. 

The main Maratika cave, Nepal, April 2017. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

In 2009, Rinpoche shared the following about Maratika:

“This place, which is called Maratika, is greatly blessed, as the great master Padmasambhava meditated here on Amitayus (the long life deity) and actualized the state of deathlessness (the siddhi of immortal life). Apart from other lamas, the great Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche [did] long life retreat every year here for His Holiness’s long life, which also greatly blesses the place. Especially, according to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, due to this accumulation of white virtue, just through seeing, hearing, remembering, and touching this place, the two obscurations of beings will quickly be purified, one will be looked after by the all-knowing one (the great master Padmasambhava) from Urgyen, and easily attain the state of omniscience. This holy place has many more infinite blessings than just explained, and every sick and afflicted being should go there.”

In 2016 while visiting the cave, Rinpoche translated a requesting prayer to Maratika, which has just been made available by FPMT Education Services. During Rinpoche’s 2016 pilgrimage to Maratika, Rinpoche received from Khenpo Gyurme Thegchog Gyaltsen a prayer he had composed called “A Requesting Prayer to Maratika: The Source of an Ocean of Siddhis.” Rinpoche translated this prayer into English and FPMT Education Services has recently published it. According to Ven. Sarah Thresher, who edited the English translation, the prayer “is a concise guide to the holy places and holy objects of Maratika in the form of a request. It also tells of the history and origin of the caves, the unique characteristics of the environment, the etymology of the place’s name, and the particular practices to be done.”

Rinpoche and others do practice inside the main Maratika cave, Nepal, April 2017. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Also while at Maratika recently, Rinpoche met with Ven. Tenzin Choegyal, the reincarnation of Ngawang Chöphel, known as the Maratika Lama, the main disciple of the Lawudo Lama, Rinpoche’s previous incarnation. Ven. Tenzin Choegyal is now seventeen years old and studies in Kathmandu at Shechen Monastery under Rabjam Rinpoche. Ngawang Chöphel’s son Lopön Karma Wangchug now looks after the monastery at Maratika.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Ven. Tenzin Choegyal, the reincarnation of Ngawang Chöphel, the main disciple of the Lawudo Lama, Maratika, Nepal, April 2017. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

In addition to doing prayers and practices at Maratika, Rinpoche blessed several goats liberated last year who are taken care of nearby. FPMT’s Animal Liberation Fund is contributing towards the goats’ care, and while at Maratika, Rinpoche offered additional funds for their food and other necessities for the coming year.

Watch a video here made in 2016 of Rinpoche leading an extensive motivation for the goats’ liberation before blessing them by chanting various mantras, reciting beneficial prayers, and tying blessed red cloth around their necks. Rinpoche ends the practice with several dedication prayers.

Rinpoche with liberated goats at Maratika, Nepal, April 2017. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Rinpoche also looked for land to buy in the Maratika area, where he would like to have two or three retreat cabins built specifically for shiné practice, a little distance from the caves where it is quiet. This search is still continuing.

“A Requesting Prayer to Maratika: The Source of an Ocean of Siddhis” can be found here:

Students interested in going on pilgrimage to Maratika Caves can contact Ven. Sarah Thresher through FPMT International Office for information and assistance. 

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.