Working with Death – the Bardo Group

In the Buddhist tradition, the process of death is considered to be one of the most important periods in a life. Rokpa Bardo is a group of Sangha members of the Cape Town Samye Dzong (South Africa) formed to assist the dying and their families; to learn about the processes of death – both spiritual and practical, and to provide a service of assistance and education to others, particularly members of the Sangha. Their activities include organising:

  • educational events which are open to the public*;
  • 24hr vigils for the dead;
  • assistance with funeral/memorial services;
  • prayers and chants for the ill, the dying and the dead.

*These educational events have included talks by experts in their fields on :

  • Beliefs & practices around death and dying from different perspectives such as Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and African Traditional.
  • Phowa – Transference of Consciousness;
  • How the coma state resembles the last moments of life and how we can communicate with and be with a person in this state?
  • Death preparedness; What occurs at the moment of death; Supporting the dying; What you can do to put your life in order; Wills and Wishes; Living Wills; Organ Donat ion; Laying of Mandalas; Handling the body.

We have initiated an Amitabha Buddha Shrineroom Fund, produced Bardo Kits and published three booklets, namely :

  • ‘When a Buddhist Dies : Instructions and Prayers’;
  • ‘Objectives & Activities of Rokpa Bardo’,
  • ‘When I go – what I would like my family and friends to do when I die.’ (a booklet setting out personal preferences and requirements around death)

Rokpa Bardo meets regularly at the Cape Town Samye Dzong and these meetings are
open to anyone interested in the subject of death and dying.
For further information please contact :

Items for Sale

The Ven. Akong Rinpoche gave Rokpa Bardo instructions about how to care for the dead. These instructions, along with the necessary artefacts, have been assembled in a kit (the Bardo Kit) for use by Sangha members at the death of family and friends.
1. Bardo Kit : The items below are contained in an A4 plastic studded envelope :

  • 6 Yantra mandalas, hand-painted with saffron (see example at top of page);
  • A picture of Amitabha Buddha;
  • Instructions for placing the abovementioned items on the body and coffin;
  • One Bardo Thodol CD (or audiotape);
  • Two publications : ‘When a Buddhist Dies – Prayers and Instructions’ & ‘When I go – what I would like my family and friends to do when I die’ (a booklet setting our personal preference and requirements around death)

2. Shroud: Made of pure cotton, hand-dyed in saffron. It may be used to wrap the body prior to placing in the coffin or simply draped over the body in the coffin.
3. Bardo Thodol CD: for playing before, during or after the dying process. This recording features Vajrayana chanting by the Very Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche and the monks of his monastery. The playing of this CD is considered very auspicious and can be dedicated to anyone who has died even if some time has elapsed.

The costs of these items are : Kit – R300; Shroud – R200; CD or audiotape – R100.
Costs include VAT but exclude postage, packing, shipping and banking charges.

All income derived from sales or donations goes towards the building of an air-conditioned
Amitabha Buddha Shrineroom to serve the Sangha in Cape Town, and its surrounds.
For further information and orders please contact :