In 1994 Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche was invited to assume the spiritual direction of a Buddhist community in Vancouver, BC, Canada, which became his first home in North America. He lived there for several years teaching to a growing community of students. Rinpoche also traveled widely during this period, responding to teaching invitations across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
In 1996, in a living room in Louisville, Colorado, students began gathering together to study and practice under Rinpoche’s guidance. This group soon became the first official Nalandabodhi center.
Ponlop Rinpoche formally established Nalandabodhi as his primary teaching organization and sangha community in 1997, and Nalandabodhi soon developed into an international network of Buddhist study and practice centers. Nalanda translates as “the place that confers the lotus (of spiritual knowledge),” and was the name of the great Buddhist university that flourished for some 700 years in ancient India. Bodhi translates as “enlightenment.” The programs sponsored by Nalandabodhi and NalandaWest carry on this ancient wisdom tradition in a Western context.
Under Ponlop Rinpoche’s close guidance, the first informal sourcebooks for the Nalandabodhi Path of Study courses were published in 1998.
In 2001 Ponlop Rinpoche made Seattle the home base for his growing dharma activities, including Nalandabodhi, Nitartha International, and Nitartha Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. In the same year, under Rinpoche’s close guidance, the first sourcebooks for the Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation courses were published.
In 2005 Ponlop Rinpoche appointed a group of his longtime students to be senior Western teachers of Nalandabodhi. He gave each of them the title “Mitra,” or “spiritual friend.”
On his historic first visit to America in 2008, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa visited and taught at NalandaWest for the first time.
The first Nalandabodhi Path of Mindful Activity course was developed in 2012. With the development of these materials, Nalandabodhi began offering a full range of courses, fulfilling Rinpoche’s vision for an integrated path of study, meditation, and mindful activity. Nalandabodhi Centers and Study Groups are established in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.