About Phajoding Monastery in Bhutan – a refuge for underprivileged boys

Phajoding is much more than a Buddhist monastery. It is a place of refuge, compassion, belonging and hope.

Phajoding Monastery, which is a 3 hour hike from the nearest road, is located above Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. It was once one of the richest and most decorated monasteries in the country however due to years of neglect and the encroachment of development, it was watch listed in 2010  by the World Monuments Fund as one of five endangered cultural monuments that need most help in the world (1). It is home to many very sacred Buddhist artefacts. Phajoding takes its name from the saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who meditated there in the 13th century and is considered to be one of the most sacred meditational sites in Bhutan. The monastery itself is an open complex that comprises many holy buildings and relics and a State monastic school that currently houses just over 80 monks. The monk body (Dratshang) is almost totally financed by the Government and given the numerous Buddhist institutes and monasteries across Bhutan, resources are limited. Less than a half of the monks at Phajoding receive a minimal Government stipend which subsequently has to be shared across all the monks. As a result, these monks live in the most basic of conditions and since they all come from impoverished backgrounds, their families often do not have the financial means to provide for their basic needs. Many sent to this Monastery have been orphaned. Lama Namgay Tenzin is the Principal of Phajoding Monastery. He was raised in Haa and enrolled in the Central Monk Body at aged 7 and went on to complete his Master of Buddhist Philosophy at Tango Buddhist University in Thimphu and 3 year meditation in Genekha under the instruction of His Eminence Dorji Lopen. He has previously held the position of head teacher at Phajoding Monastic School.

The mission of this project is to empower, care for and educate disadvantaged young boys from across Bhutan.

The vision of the lamas is to transform this monastery into a thriving centre for learning – where the monks, who range in age from 7 to 25 years old, are scholared in Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness within a supportive and compassionate environment. They have begun to extend the curriculum to include secular subjects such as English and Basic Maths and the teaching of practical skills such as carpentry and organic gardening. As a result many impoverished children will be empowered, educated and provided with options and hope where they previously had none. There is an urgent need to help support this worthwhile humanitarian endeavour. By sharing the spiritual legacy of this holy place and the monk’s day to day activities via this web site it is hoped that the good work here may inspire others to help in whatever way they can. (1)