Maratika and the Quest for Enlightenment
Maratika (also known as Haleshi) is situated in the Khotang district of east Nepal. The caves of Maratika are a well respected pilgrimage destination for followers of Tibetan Buddhism.
According to legend, the caves of Maratika is the location where the great master Padmasambhava, the second Buddha, and his companion, Mandarava, undertook three months of ritual in order to embark on the path of liberation, which resulted in both of them attaining the Immortality of Life. As a consequence of this, the caves are strongly associated with practices pertaining to longevity, and pilgrims converge there in the quest for long life. Maratika has also been blessed by Manjushree, Vajrapani and Awaloketesvara, three family lords, giving it even more credibility as a pilgrimage site.
Maratika Chimey Takten Choling (CTC) Monastery was established in 1980 by Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso Rinpoche and belongs to the Ngingmapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, a religion practised in Nepal. There are three primary statues in the monastery, all of which have been consecrated by Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche. These statues are Buddha Sakyamuni, Buddha Amitayus and Padmasambhava. Many Buddhist masters have used Maratika as a retreat.
Maratika CTC School was established by the Maratika Lama Lopon Karma Wangchuk in 1999 and is home to twenty-one monks, ranging in age from 12 to 35 years, who have come from some of the most remote and poorest villages in Nepal, Tibet and India. Students at the Maratika CTC School receive instruction in areas of Buddhist philosophy and education based on the traditions of Hianyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana philosophy, as well as literature, ritual prayers, history and meditation. Students may receive either a graduate or post graduate degree after completing the nine year course of study. In order to obtain their master degree in Buddhist philosophy, students will complete a further three year research program or three year meditation retreat. The course of study offered at Maratika CTC School is in such demand that they cannot accommodate all the students who have requested to study there. Plans are currently underway to expand the learning facilities in order to benefit many more students.
Certainly, Maratika in Nepal is rich in the culture, traditions and religion of the inhabitants. This is enhanced by the monastery which undertakes to keep the area sacred and to welcome pilgrims who journey there in a quest for enlightenment.