The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Samding, a Geluk Ani gompa (or nunnery) - which also housed some Monks - was built on a hill on a peninsula jutting into the sacred lake, Yar-'brog or Yamdrok Tso, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Nangkatse, and some 112 kilometres (70 mi) southwest of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,423 m or 14,512 ft.
Samding was the seat of Dorje Pakmo ('The Diamond - or Thunderbolt - Sow'), also known as Sera Kandro, the [[consort of the wrathful Deity Demchok (Heruka), who was the highest female incarnation In Tibet, and the third highest-ranking person in the lamaist hierarchy after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
- "Huge flags of stone are piled in ascending steps up this hill, and a long low wall mounts beside them like a balustrade.
At the top of the steps, a narrow pathway conducts to the foot of the Monastery, which is circled by a high wall.
Samding is finely placed. To the N.E. it fronts the dark and precipitous mountain spurs which radiate from the lofty central peak of the islands.
To the S.E. it looks over the land towards the illimitable waters of the weird and mighty Yamdok herself.
- On entering the gates of the Monastery, you find yourself in an extensive courtyard, flanked on three sides by the conventional buildings.
Part of the fourth side of the parallelogram is occupied by a kind of grand-stand supported on pilasters of wood.
Ladders with broad steps, cased in brass, give admission to the first floor of the main building.
At the base, on a stone slab is marked the reputed footprint of the saint.
To the grim charnel-house, it is considered the imperative duty of each incarnate abbess to repair once, while living, to gaze her fill on her predecessors, and to make formal obeisance to their mouldering forms. She must enter once, but only once, during her lifetime.
- Another hall in the Monastery is the dus-k'aṅ, the walls of which are frescoes illustrative of the career of the original Dorje P'ag-mo.
This convent also stands on an islet situated off the west shore of the great lake, about 70 miles N.W. of Lhāsa, the Nam Ts'o Ch'yidmo, and is much akin to Samding, composed of a few Monks and Nuns under an abbess. At Markula, in Lahul, is a third shrine of the Goddess."
Closer to Lhasa, there is another branch of [[Samding] Monastery]] on the small island of Yambu in Rombuza Tso or "corpse-worm bottle lake" (which, apparently, received this unusual Name because it was used as a burial place for Monks).
Samding Monastery is said by Waddell and McGovern to belong to one of the red hat sects (Red Hat sect), but Dowman lists it as a "Geluk establishment". Willis claims "it was chiefly affiliated with the rNying-ma sect".
The abbess became famous when she turned herself and her Nuns into sows to prevent a Mongol raid on the nunnery in 1716 (McGovern gives 1717 for this event). It was destroyed after 1959 but is in the process of being restored.
Unusually, Monks as well as Nuns both lived in the Monastery under the abbess, Dorje Pakmo, although she now lives in Lhasa. Samding gompa was destroyed after 1959 but is in the process of being restored.