HIS HOLINESS THE 14TH DALAI LAMA.
THE SPIRITUAL AND TEMPORAL LEADER.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
80TH ABBOT (H.E. KHEN RINPOCHE GESHE LOBSANG GYALTSEN)
Geshe Lharampa Lobsang Gyaltsan, born in Wakha, Ladakh in 1966 was appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 80th Abbot of Great Monastery, Drepung Gomang Monastery. At age of 11, He joined Likir Monastery, Ladakh and studied there for three years. In 1978, he also received his Getsul vows (novice ordination vows) from Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. In order to study further in Buddhist Philosophy, he joined Drepung Gomang Monastery in south India in 1979 and pursue traditional monastic studies of Five Major Treatise of Buddhist Philosophy under Venerable Khensur Geshe Lobsang Samten and Venerable Khensur Geshe Tsultrim Phuntsok, since 1992, he has been sincerely providing teachings to young monks and is one of the reputed Buddhist teacher of this monastery. In 1999, he was awarded with Geshe Lharampa Title after achieving first rank and passing the six year Gelug Board Examination conducted by the Gelug University Board. In 2002, he was elected as the Head Discipline Master (Gegu) of this monastery. In 2003, he studied at Gyumed Tantric College to complete one year mandatory course in Tantric. In 2004, for three years, he served as the Supervisor of Gelug University Examination Board.
From 25th Oct, 2015, His Eminence Khen Rinpoche took over as the 80th Abbot/Khen Rinpoche of Drepung Gomang Monastery.
79TH ABBOT (H.E. KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE YONTEN DHAMCHOE)
The Abbot (Khen Rinpoche) term is of six year and after every six years, a list of nominees for new Abbot is gathered from the monks during the congregation and that is submitted to His Holiness the Dalai Lama via Dept of Religion and Culture. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has appointed Geshe Yonten Dhamchoe as the 79th Abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery, South India.
Born at Amdo Taktsang Lhamo (Tibet) in 1940, he escaped to India after invasion of Tibet by China 1959, he is one of the 60 monks who reestablished the monastery here at present location after shifting from Buxar. Day and night he and other monks worked hard in the field for crops, sometimes writing texts and scriptures so to provide monastic education to young monks who enrolled during that time, so that the study of monks goes on without hindrance and traditional monastic curriculum survives. Conferred Geshe Lharampa title in 1984 after passing Gelug University Examination with great result, Khen Rinpoche has been spending many hours of his day teaching the Buddhist sutras to the monks of this monastery. His Eminence Khen Rinpoche has visited France, Mongolia, Japan, United States of America on projects related to the monastery.
78TH ABBOT (KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE LOBSANG SAMTEN)
Geshe Lharampa Lobsang Samten was born to mother Dekyi Dolma and father Kunchok Dargye on July 6, 1929, at Zangri, South of Lhasa in Tibet and was named Tashi Wangpo at birth. From the age of 7 to 13, he helped his family by doing work as a shepherd boy, but encountered great difficulties as wild animals took away their livestock.
At the age of 14, he joined one the great monasteries in Central Tibet, Palden Ngari Datsang, as a novice monk, taking novice vows and ordination from then Abbot Lobsang Jigme and was provided the ordination name of Lobsang Samten. Under the residence teachers Gen. Kunchok Gyaltsen and Kalsang he studied reading and writing the Tibetan alphabet and also prayer recitation. At the age of 15, under Geshe Jamyang Gyatso and the great scholar Gen. Tsultrim Damdaul, he studied elementary Buddhist texts until he reached the Parchen class (Prajnaparamita: The Six Perfection). From the age of 25 to 29, he studied Namdel and under Tsangpa Gen. Sopa and others, he took part in Jamyang Gunchoe, having to travel with great difficulty for five days on foot with one month's ration.
At the age of 30, he escaped to India after the invasion of Tibet by China, walking days and nights as did the other Gomang monks. They stayed at Buxar in Northeast India. Because His Holiness the Dalai Lama noticed that only a small number of the monk population from the three great monasteries was able to flee to India, he requested the Indian Government to allow these monks to study their texts in order to preserve the religion, but this was difficult to do. At Buxar, Lobsang Samten received Bikhu ordination (full ordination) from the then senior tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ven. Ling Rinpoche.
Upon the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Indian Government, the Indian Central Government allotted some lands to Tibetan refugees for cultivation in order to sustain themselves. As a result, monasteries such as Sera and Kagyu monasteries were re-established in Bylakupee; whereas in Mundgod, monasteries such as Gaden, Drepung, Sakya and Nyima were re-established. During that time for three or four years, Lobsang Samten also did farming while he studied the Five Major Buddhist Treatises under Gen. Tsultrim Gyatso and Mongolian Khensur Ngawang Lobsang.
In 1973, at the age of 44 he obtained the Geshe Lharampa Degree and at Monam Chenmo he gave his Geshe Lharampa examination debate in front of Great scholars (Geshe Damcha). In 1983, he was appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the Discipline Master of Drepung Gomang Monastery for a period of two years. He also served as Lama Shunglenba (Education Supervisor) of the monastery for four years. From 1990 till 1995, he observed a Yamakanta retreat. At present Khensur Rinpoche is residing at Manali supervising the day to day work of his monastery.
77TH ABBOT (KHENSUR RINPOCHE TSULTRIM PHUNTSOK)
Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lharampa Tsultrim Phuntsok was born at Shongchu Ngak Tsel. In 1945, he became a monk and was ordained at Shongchu Tserpa Gonpa at Gadhan Choekorling. He pursued basic monastic studies at his native place before joining Drepung Gomang Monastic Administrative Office Gomang monastery near Lhasa in 1954. After the invasion of Tibet by China, he fled to India, and stayed at a transit camp at Buxa for ten years, practicing and memorizing texts, also occasionally teaching the camp's small children. He was also one of the 60 monks who were present during the re-establishment of the monastery in India. In 1981, Rinpoche taught at Hamburg University in Germany for three years. In 1995, Rinpoche was chosen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be the Head Abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery. Since then, he has been deeply involved, dedicating himself for the welfare of the monks here and supervising the smooth running of the administrative system of the monastery. Rinpoche was also a member of the first Gomang tour group who visited United States in 1999, and he has officially visited Japan, Russia and Mongolia.
76TH ABBOT (DREPUNG TRIPA KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE LOBSANG TENPA)
THE CURRENT THRONE HOLDER OF DREPUNG MONASTIC UNIVERSITY.
The current Drepung Tripa (The Throne Holder) and former Abbot of Drepung Monastery, Khensur Lobsang Tenpa, was born in the year 1938, in Amdo province of Eastern Tibet. He became a monk at the age of 11 and was ordained at Taktsang Lhamo monastery. At the age of 18, he traveled to the south of Lhasa where he joined Drepung Gomang monastery. In 1959, he fled Tibet when the Chinese invaded following H. H. the Dalai Lama into India. He stayed at a transit camp for ten years. In 1970, he entered Varanasi University, Central Institute of Higher Studies, where he obtained the Acharya degree with remarkable and excellent results. In 1973, he returned to Drepung Gomang Monastery where he studied the Abhidharma and the Vinaya. In 1982, he sat for the Gelug examination in which he rank first of all the candidates from the three great monasteries. Rinpoche was chosen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be the Head Abbot in 1989. Rinpoche has visited United States of America, Taiwan, Russia and Mongolia and also to Europe as head of the Gomang European tour. Having attained great distinction in the Buddhist Sutra and Tantra doctrines, Rinpoche is an important inspiration to the people.
75TH ABBOT (KHENSUR RINPOCHE TEMPA GYALTSEN 1932-2012)
Khensur Rinpoche Tenpa Gyaltsen was born Nyima Wangdu in 1932 in the village of Kyinag near Lhasa, Tibet. When he was 11 years old, he became a monk at Drepung Gomang Monastery where he studied and taught until 1959. At that time at the age of 27, he escaped from Tibet with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and went to India where he continued teaching and studying.
In 1966, Rinpoche obtained His Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest level of achievement in the study of Buddhist philosophy. In 1979 at the request of His Holiness, Khensure Rinpoche went to Japan to teach at the Tibetan Research Library in Tokyo. He also taught at Kyoto University and Moroyoka University. In 1986 he returned to Drepung Gomang in India where he served as Abbot for the next three years. In 1989 he returned to his teaching duties in Japan.
In 1994, Khensure Rinpoche began preparation for a six-year retreat. For the first two years of his retreat, he lived at Tashi Gomang Monastery in north India and for the last four years, he stayed at Drepung Gomang Monastery. During this four-year period, he completed a three-year, three-month, three-day retreat -- a special retreat period.
In November 2001, Khensure Rinpoche returned to Japan to resume teaching. He was the President of the Mahayana Manjushri Buddhist Association located in Japan. Khensur Rinpoche passed away on 12th August at his residence at Drepung Gomang Monastery.
74TH ABBOT (SHUNGPA KHENSUR RINPOCHE TSULTRIM GYATSO (1924-1986)
Shungpa Khensur Rinpoche Tsultrim Gyatso was born in 1924 in Amdo region of Tibet. From childhood, he always has a great wishes to become a monk and study in one of the monastery. He studied for two years at Labrang Tashi Kyil before joining Drepung Gomang Monastery in Tibet. He studied Five Major treatise of Buddhist Philosophy from great teacher Khalka Geshe Thupten Nyima, Khalka Geshe Lobsang Yeshi, Washu Geshe Jamyang Gyatso and Gomang Khensur Geshe Ngawang Lobsang. In 1965, he was honored with Geshe Lharampa Title for coming first in the Geshe examination.He also studied for Lopon (Acharya) from Deemed University, Varanasi and also served as the lecture there at the University. He was appointed as the 74th Abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery in October 1983 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Khensur Rinpoche passed away in Feb 1986 at the age of 63.
73TH ABBOT (SHUNGPA KHENSUR RINPOCHE KALSANG THABKEY) 1927-1999.
When Khensur Thapkhey Rinpoche was born his mother found golden flowers growing in the snow, which she took as an auspicious sign. From an early age the boy, named Thapkhey Gyatso, wanted to become a monk but, being the only son, his parents were not enthusiastic. However at the age of 14, he joined the local monastery, Shitsang Garser where he studied for some years. Later he journeyed to Lhasa to Drepung Gomang monastery where he continued his studies through the increasing Chinese domination in the 1950s. In 1959 the tension between the Chinese and Tibetans reach crisis point and His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country.
Rinpoche was one of the hundreds of Gomang monks who fled with him, crossing the Himalayas on foot, avoiding the Chinese army and finally reaching Bhutan and then India. The Indian government gave the Tibetan refugees land in South India, but by that time only 64 of the Gomang monks remained. This small band decided to rebuild their monastery and its traditions out of the jungle but not before Rinpoche had studied at the Varanasi Sanskrit College, where he graduated with an Acharya degree, and made an extended pilgrimage to many of the sacred Buddhist sites in India.
Rinpoche was one of the founding monks of Gomang College, Drepung Monastery, in India and in the late 1970s took the Geshe Lharampa exams and passed the oral and debate sections. Before he could sit the written exam he was appointed abbot of Gomang, a position he held from 1980 to 1984.
After that, The office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama approached him with a request to travel to New Zealand to become resident teacher at Dorje Chang Institute (DCI). He arrived in New Zealand on May 2, 1987 and remained at DCI until His Holiness’s first visit to the country in 1992 during which the Dalai Lama mentioned that Rinpoche should teach in Mongolia. Rinpoche went into retreat for a year at Te Moata on the Coromandel before leaving for Mongolia to teach at Gaden Hidd Monastery in Ulaan Bataar. However, his New Zealand students requested that he return to New Zealand which he did in 1995 and set up Trashi Gomang Centre in 1996. He also gave teachings throughout the country at places like Mahamudra Centre, Keri Keri, Whangarei, Wellington, Nelson, Golden Bays and surrounding areas, Blenheim, Christchurch and places on the West Coast. He also had devoted students in Hong Kong where he regularly taught.
In 1999 Rinpoche led some of his New Zealand and Hong Kong students on pilgrimage to Tibet. While at his home monastery Shitsang Garser, he fell ill and suffered a mild stroke; a blood vessel had burst in his head. Against all predictions that he would recover, Rinpoche steadily worsened and, on the morning of 29 July 1999, he died. He was in meditation for three days before the final signs of his passing away.
72ND ABBOT KHENSUR RINPOCHE NGAWANG NYIMA (1907-1990)
72nd abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery, Geshe Ngawan Nyma was born on 18th July, 1907 in Davatai, Buryatia (today's Republic of Buryatia under Russian Federation). His parents, father Tsedup Dorje and mother Tsekyima, were devoted Buddhists. It is said that on the day of his birth, Geshe Lharamba Minyak Lobsang Yonten from Drepung Loseling visited the house of his parents. Later, Lobsang Yonten became the abbot of Loseling College.
Geshe Ngawang Nyima entered the door to Dharma in Shulutuiskii Datsan (Aginskii Datsan) and received vows of Barma Ravjung and novice vows there. Until the age of nine he learnt to read and write in Mongolian and Tibetan languages. Then he memorized various prayers and started to study Buddhist logic. At that time Russia was in the process of Communist revolution and he had to study communist theory at his Monastery.
In 1923 he left Buryatia secretly for Tibet and the next year he arrived Lhasa, through Ulaanbaatar. In Lhasa he entered Drepung Gomang Monastic College, and continued his Buddhist studies. Drepung was traditionally the biggest monastery in Tibet and was established in 1416 by Jamyang Choije Tashi Palden, a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa. he lived in Drepung until 1958.
Despite many difficulties, such as lack of financial means and not being able to return home to arrange more support due to the political situations, he studied very hard for sixteen years. Often he would have nothing except the clothes he wore and could not even afford offerings to his altar. In 1938 he received the degree of Geshe Rabjim and came to be known among other Geshes for his erudition in classical Buddhist scriptures. He started receiving students to study under his guidance. Geshe Ngawang Nyima received oral transmissions of Kangyur and collected writings of Je Tsongkhapa, his spiritual sons, and many other eminent masters such as the ones from Kangsar Dorjechang. Agwan Nima spent years in meditation, and went on pilgrimage to India for three times.
In 1960, at the request of the Dalai Lama of Tibet, he took a teacher's post at Sanskrit University in Varanasi, India. He worked there for seven years. While at Sanskrit University, he wrote in Tibetan a book on Buddhist history, titled "Choijung Lungrig Dronme". He also published a collection of biographies of over two hundred scholars and yogis from India, Tibet and Mongolia.
In 1967, again following the request of the fourteenth the Dalai Lama, he went to Laiden, Holland to become a teacher at an Institute. He stayed there for six years writing five volumes on Buddhist philosophy until his retirement from the institute in 1972. Then he traveled to Switzerland where he wrote eight more volumes on Buddhist philosophy.
In 1977 he was elected as Abbot of Drepung Gomag Monastic College by the monastic community and in 1978 by the order of the Dalai Lama he became the abbot. He stayed in this position until 1980. At the age of 73 years handed down his position and went to Switzerland for vacasion during which he wrote his autobiography. A year later, he came back to India where many students studied under his guidance. He taught there until the age of 81. In 1990, his health condition became unwell . For three days he was bedridden and then after several days in meditative equipoise of Clear Light, on November 24th, he left this world.
71ST ABBOT KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE TEMPA TENZIN (1917-2007)
Khensur Geshe Tempa Tenzin was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his excellent scholastic achievement and was one of the monks who gave Geshe debate examination (Geshe Damcha) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet before the invasion by China, born in Kham province, he left Tibet in 1959 when the China invaded and followed H. H. the Dalai Lama into India. Khensur Rinopche was also one of the 60 monks who were present during the re-establishment of the monastery in India. Khensur Rinpoche was highly known Buddhist scholar and well respected by every one for his vast Buddhist knowledge on Tantra and Sutra. With his profound guidance, this monastery has excelled in its monastic studies. Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Tempa Tenzin passed away in 2007.
70TH ABBOT KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE NGAWANG LOBSANG (1899-1979)
Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Ngawang Lobsang was born in 1899 at Kham region of Tibet. He become monk at the young age and studied his religious studies. Like rest of the senior monks, Khensur Rinpoche left Tibet in 1959 and stayed at Yamantaka retreat at Ghoom monastery (Darjeeling). In 1960, he was appointed as the acting Abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was formally appointed as the 70th Abbot in 1962 as former Abbot Geshe Kalsang Legden was jailed in Drapchi Prison in Tibet.
GYUMED KHENSUR GESHE NGAWANG LEGDEN
Gyumed Khensur Geshe Ngawang Legden was appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the temporary Abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery when monks first reached India after Chinese invasion.