Spiritual programme

16. November 2018

His Holiness Dalai Lama's events in Bodhgaya

His Holiness's events will be held in the Kalachakra Maidan.

Although Root Institute is not organising or hosting these events, they are highlights of our spiritual programme.

A place to stay

We are organising tents at our nearby Stupa Garden of Compassion. If you wish to stay with us, no need to use the form for booking a personal retreat; simply book your stay.

How to get a Teaching Pass

  • All monks, nuns, foreigners and Indian devotees will need a new Teaching Pass to attend the teachings.

  • Those who have already registered during His Holiness teachings in Dharamsala or 2017 Kalachakra at Bodhgaya and have their old Teaching Pass with them need not register online.

  • If you do not have an old Teaching Pass with you, to register, use the button below to go to dalailamateaching.com to fill out and print your registration form.

  • To collect your new Teaching Pass in Bodhgaya, bring either your printed registration form or your old Teaching Pass, along with one of the following documents:

    • Passport
    • Aadhaar card
    • Voter ID
    • RC
    • Green Book.


His Holiness's events

Introductory courses & retreats

Root Institute offers a unique opportunity to learn about Buddhism from renowned Tibetan and Western teachers in the holy land where the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

Courses and retreats often include visits to the Mahabodhi Stupa for extra blessings and inspiration. Many also incorporate pilgrimages further afield, as we are located in an area surrounded by very significant pilgrimage sites.

Being in retreat

  • Gifting yourself the opportunity to do retreat is a very special venture. It will take you away from your conventional life and support your discovery of becoming an "inner being".
  • Retreats require discipline, flexibility and energy. It may take a few days to settle into the schedule; it's good to relax and enjoy the process.
  • You will be asked to relinquish technology including your mobile phone and, for some courses, participate fully in periods of silence. This might be a new experience for you. It is designed to support your spiritual journey by reducing distractions and giving you the space and time for reflection.
  • Being part of a retreat is about the collective experience of all participants. You will all be in this together, supported by your retreat leader, as well as our Spiritual Programme Coordinator and all the family at Root Institute. You won't be alone!

Introductory courses & retreats

Intermediate courses & retreats

For established students or adventurous beginners

Our intermediate courses are ideal for those who are looking to challenge themselves beyond foundational Buddhist philosophy. Having said that, each course or retreat is open to anyone who may wish to attend.

Beginners may find some concepts a little challenging to understand. If you are in this category, you may like to prepare by way of reading or listening to online teachings.

Our intermediate courses are typically taught by special teachers or high lamas who visit Root Institute.

 Intermediate courses & retreats

Extensive studies of Buddhist philosophy

Root Institute is offering this residential programme for in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology.

Participants are welcome to study one module, one season (mid-September to mid-April), or the entire programme and students wishing to engage in extensive studies are now eligible for the grant of student visas (S-5) (see details below).

In our first year, 2016–17, a small, enthusiastic and harmonious group of students gathered from all over the world; the programme continued in 2017–18, and we are now inviting applications for our third year.

Studying in Bodhgaya, where the Buddha manifested enlightenment, is extremely auspicious and brings great blessings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama plans to teach in Bodhgaya each January from now on. Also, typically during our winter season, Root Institute has the great good fortune to host Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and to have teaching-visits from other high lamas and renowned teachers.

Basic Programme (BP) students are also able to participate in the short-courses of our spiritual programme which bring inspiration from a range of teachers to complement their understanding of Buddhism, and enables them to meet many like-minded people and create meaningful and rewarding friendships.

To study the subjects of BP 3rd year at Root Institute it is not compulsory to have studied the subjects of 1st or 2nd year. Students can join the programme at any stage. Having said that, to get maximum benefit from these 3rd year subjects, one needs a foundational understanding of Buddhist philosophy, so having done at least an introductory course is advisable.

An updated motivation letter is asked from returning students who completed 1st or 2nd year of BP at Root Institute.

3rd Year – September 2018 to April 2019 – Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life

The Basic Programme has been specifically designed by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), to provide a balanced approach to the combined academic education and practice of meditation that characterizes the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This makes the study and understanding of the philosophical subjects of immediate and practical benefit. The Basic Programme has been structured around a schedule of teachings, meditations and discussion groups alternated with meditation retreats, so as to encourage the integration of the teachings into one's practice with a view to gaining a personal experience of them.

Basic Programme team

  • Resident Geshe – Lharampa Geshe Ngawang Rabga, from Lhowa Khamsten, Sera Je Monastery

  • Translator – Melanie Eikema

  • Tutor – Sally Ong, 2011 graduate of Master Programme subjects: Ornament of Clear Realisation & Supplement to the Middle Way & 2007 graduate of Basic Programme at Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa (Italy).

Our Basic Programme team
Our Basic Programme team – Melanie Eikema (translator), Geshe Ngawang Rabga (resident geshe) and Sally Ong (tutor)

Subjects of study

  • Mind and Cognition: The way the mind knows phenomena and the mental factors that constitute the basis of our daily experience

  • Tenets: The philosophical systems or tenets of the four main schools of ancient Buddhist thought

  • Heart Sutra: Emptiness and the phenomena qualified by it

  • Stages of the Path: The stages of the path to enlightenment of beings of low, middling and great capacity

  • Mahayana Mind Training (The Wheel of Sharp Weapons): The law of actions and results, or karma, and the states of mind that shape our future experiences

  • Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life: The six perfections – generosity, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom – and how to practice them in everyday life.

  • Sublime Continuum: The buddha- or tathagata-essence that exists within every sentient being

  • Ornament for Clear Realization, Fourth Chapter: Outlining the bodhisattva's meditation on the aspects of the three exalted knowers by way of a union of calm abiding and special insight for the purpose of attaining enlightenment

  • Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra: The four classes of tantra with emphasis on the generation and completion stages of the highest yoga tantra.

 Please refer to a detailed description of the texts – PDF and detail on the subjects to be studied – PDF.

Time period

  • Classes will be conducted from mid-September to mid-April – seven months per year.

  • The complete program will be offered over a period of five years, including review and final exam, and three months of lam-rim retreat.


The following is required of all students who wish to have their Basic Programme completion card signed off for subject completion:

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at teachings by Geshe-la, four times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 5:15–6:45 pm

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at discussion groups – led by the Basic Programme tutor, four times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at meditations / retreats offered as part of the programme

  • karma yoga: five hours per week in any project at Root Institute and / or at Root institute General

  • completion of all assessments and tests set by the tutor as part of the programme

  • fulfilling the Basic Programme behaviour requirement.

Qualification for completion certificate

Students who wish to qualify for the Basic Programme completion certificate need to:

  • have successfully completed the nine core curriculum Basic Programme subjects with the 80% attendance rate for each element – teachings, discussion groups, meditations and retreats

  • participated in the three-month review period at the completion of the programme

  • successfully completed the Basic Programme final exam

  • fulfiled the three-month lam-rim retreat requirement by participating in three one-month lam-rim retreats offered as part of the programme.

General information

  • Students keep their own attendance records, which will be turned in on a weekly basis. Use of the self-evaluation card is optional.

  • Target student population: We are hoping for a combination of Indian national and international students, lay and Sangha.

  • Casual visitors are welcome to the teachings and meditations on the basis of quiet attendance, leaving active participation to the actual BP students.

  • Suggested donation: Please email our director, Ven. Tenzin Paldron, for more information.

  • More information about the FPMT Basic Programme is available on the FPMT website.

Student visa

Root Institute for Wisdom Culture is now approved as an institution eligible for the grant of student visa (S-5) to foreign nationals coming for Buddhist Studies for a period of up to 5 years, or for the duration of their course of study, whichever is less. Application must be made from the student's home country. (For further information, contact our director.)

Application process

If you are interested in enrolling in the Basic Programme at Root Institute:

In conclusion

We hope that offering a complete, residential Basic Programme, over a five-year period, six-and-a-half months each year, will make Root Institute for Wisdom Culture an attractive place for beginning and more advanced students and practitioners alike.

FPMT Basic Programme modules 2018–19

Outer and inner journeys

Because our region of India is rich in the heritage of Buddhism – with many holy places where the Buddha and his disciples resided, meditated, and taught – Root Institute offers an array of pilgrimages to these sites throughout our spiritual season.

Our pilgrimages are designed to facilitate an "inner spiritual journey" – with opportunities to practice, connect, and revive one's inspiration from places in the outer environment blessed through the realisations of accomplished beings over millenia.

The beauty of such pilgrimages is that everything is organised for you; free of practical hassles, you can relax and enjoy the time and space to receive blessings and inspiration from holy places with the company and support of warm-hearted, like-minded people.

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche, explains:

Normally when people go on pilgrimage, they are just like tourists; maybe they take some pictures, and that's it. They don't use the places to collect merit or to meditate or to get some benefit for their minds. If it's just like sightseeing, then it won't be that much benefit.

The point is to use the pilgrimage to purify our mind and collect as extensive merit as possible. By doing pilgrimage, we receive blessings from the holy places where enlightened beings, great yogis, and bodhisattvas, have practiced.

Root ​Institute's biennial fundraising pilgrimages

Just once every two years we will set off on a spiritual adventure, tracing the steps of the Buddha on an extended pilgrimage ending at Root Institute and the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya.

These pilgrimages, like this year's inaugural Pilgrimage Celebrating Root Institute's 30th Anniversary [PDF], are led by an experienced meditation leader integrating practices advised by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of FPMT, and raise money and awareness ​for​ Root Institute for Wisdom Culture.

We are now welcoming advance bookings for​ our 2020 Fundraising Pilgrimage to Buddha’s Sites.

Upcoming pilgrimages

Root Institute comes together to make offerings at the Mahabodhi Stupa

To understand the context of these events, you may like to visit our page on Bodhgaya's significance and the Mahabodhi Stupa.

Offering of robes

On the full moon, we offer robes to the Mahabodhi Stupa Buddha on behalf of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and dedications are made for the clearing of all obstacles for Rinpoche’s holy projects and centres.

Offering robes to the Lord Buddha statue in the Mahabodhi shrine room

Offerings of water, lights, flowers and incense

Occasionally we hold a stupa-practice day where guests, staff and volunteers accumulate merit together by making offerings of water, lights, flowers and incense at the Mahabodhi Stupa.

It is a very special, relaxing activity and a wonderful opportunity to purify negativities, accumulate merit and make a connection with the holiest site of the Buddhist world.

Good vibes while offering flowers

You are very welcome to join us!

For these events, there is no need to register.

 Mahabodhi Stupa events planned so far

Daily morning meditations

  • Monday to Saturday, 6:45–7:30am – suspended during off-season; resuming in November.

Guided meditations are offered daily by experienced meditation leaders and include topics of the Lam Rim (Stages of the Path) and mindfulness.

Teachings with Geshe Ngawang Rabga

Our resident geshe

Geshe Ngawang RabgaYou are welcome to drop in to our resident geshe's classes in the FPMT Basic Programme (continuing to mid-April; more details here):

  • Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri – 5:15pm–6:45pm.

Enrolled students participating in the full programme will be seated at the front and able to ask questions.

But anyone can drop in for a class and sit quietly, and any donation would be welcome.

Regular pujas and practices

We observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:

  • Tara Puja
  • Medicine Buddha Puja
  • Guru Puja with Tsog
  • Protector Puja

Puja in main gompa

Check our announcements on our homepage where we list drop-in sessions scheduled within the next week.

The homepage list also includes two other kinds of events which require no booking, held at the Mahabodhi Stupa:

Drop-in sessions planned so far

Those who offer one thousand lights will be reborn when Maitreya Buddha shows the deed of gaining Enlightenment and receive his first Dharma teaching.

Arya Maitreya Sutra

Four auspicious events celebrated each year

The four most important events of Shakyamuni Buddha's life according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition are honoured every year on dates in the Tibetan calendar:

Check below for our next festival dates according to the Western calendar.

Every festival:

  • is held principally at the Mahabodhi Stupa, though extensive light offerings are also made at Root Institute
  • allows people from around the world to sponsor lights, pujas and prayer flags, and
  • includes reading aloud each evening all the names of sponsors and their prayers of dedication.

Each Festival of Light & Merit includes

Hanging prayer flagsExtensive light offerings

Tens of thousands of electrical light offerings create the illusion of a starry sky surrounding the Stupa itself, a beautiful and inspiring sight. Together with the thousands of electrical lights at Root institute, these lights are offered and dedicated each evening by Root Institute on behalf of sponsors.

Three special pujas

Three specific pujas are specially arranged:

  • Tara Puja
  • Protector Puja
  • Guru Puja with Tsog

with monks from the Bodhgaya branch of Namgyal Monastery.

Hanging of blessed prayer flags

Traditional Tibetan Prayer Flags are blessed, raised beside the Mahabodhi Stupa and dedicated on behalf of sponsors. The blessings of which are spread across the Stupa grounds and inner Bodhgaya city.


In addition, all the offerings are dedicated to:

  • the long lives of our holy gurus
  • the preservation and spread of the pure Dharma
  • the temporal and ultimate happiness of the sponsors and their loved ones
  • the quick enlightenment of all sentient beings
  • peace and harmony around the world and
  • the removal of all obstacles and the quick success of FPMT projects.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised Root Institute that each single recitation of the actual light offering prayer is equivalent to the number of lights offered. Therefore, on one night during the 15 Days of Miracles, if 100,000 lights are offered by 10 students, according to Rinpoche’s advice, one million lights would be offered on that night alone!

Sponsorship of FLAM also helps the Root Institute family

To use the following button, please ensure your browser allows (unblocks) popups on our site.

The next festival dates

Show events from all categories

General information about the spiritual programme

Our spiritual programme now runs from mid-September to mid-April.

On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:

  • Tara puja
  • Medicine Buddha puja
  • Lama Ch'opa ts'og offering
  • Protector puja

Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all events except:

To book your own individual or group retreat, please go to Bodhgaya's blessings > Retreat – at Stupa Garden of Compassion, through which you can also book accommodation.

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.