Resident artist Sonam Sherpa
Nalanda is really lucky to have Sonam Sherpa as resident artist since 2008. Despite his young age (born in 1983), Sonam is recognized as a highly talented artist.
Born in a small village in east Nepal "Hile Bagpaile," Sonam had predisposition to draw and paint since he was a child. This is why he was encouraged by his elder brother to go to the school of art in Boudhanath Kathmandu, the Tsering Art school founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachers. Sonam studied there for six years the thangka painting art following the lineage of Konchog Lhadrepa, the exceptionally qualified painting master of the Karma Gadri tradition famous for the beauty of its spacious landscapes combined with a minute attention to deities' details respecting the accuracy of the texts.
After having graduated in 2004, Sonam started working for monasteries in Nepal and India and then started to run a thangka workshop with a friend. In 2007, they met venerable Tendar, Nalanda's director on that time, who invited them to come to Nalanda to work in the new Gompa, to paint the main Buddha statue and the thousand Buddha statues arranged on the back wall. But after two months of work they decided to leave to Holland.
Five months later, in 2008, Sonam came back and decided to stay to finish the new Gompa: working on all the details of the main Buddha statue, opening the eyes of the Buddha statues in the back wall (doing more than 600 in about 5 months), painting and decorating the altar area and doing other works outside the Gompa. This amazing work took 2 years to be fully accomplished and ended just before the visit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2009.
The visit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche was a turning point in the life of Sonam as Rinpoche was really impressed by the quality of his work and ordered him various works as Thangkas and logos for FPMT centers including Maitreya Buddha projects Logo. "Rinpoche’s appreciation is an important reason why I am still here. At some point, I thought my work was finished. But then Rinpoche asked me to do more thangkas for Nalanda."
Those thangkas represent the three protectors of the Lam Rim. Vaishravana, a deity sitting on a snow lion, which is now on the left wall in the Gompa, White Mahakala which has also been finished and Kalarupa that Sonam hopes to finish soon. Nowadays, Sonam is mainly dedicated to paint the original statues of the 16 Arhats sculpted by Jonathan Partridge and he will also paint copies for other FPMT centers.
Sonam has always been very happy to fulfil Lama Zopa Rinpoche's wishes and benefit the monastery. Now Sonam is completely installed in France and since beginning of 2016 he is the proud father of a little girl.