Abbots, Lamas, Tulkus, Geshes and more…
Acharya,Master in Sanskrit, equivalent of the title Lopon in the Tibetan language.
Geshe is a degree in Buddhist Philosophy, much like the western degree of Ph.D., and much like in the western academic life, a Geshe degree can also be bestowed on an honorary basis. The title is only found in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The other schools, Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu, give the academic title Khenpo, which in the Gelug (like at Sera Jey) and Sakya tradition denote Abbotship.
Rinpoche is a Tibetan honorary title given to deserving Lamas.
Lama is the Tibetan word for Guru (Sanskrit), and means spritual teacher or leader. Some Lamas are considered to be reincarnations of their predecessors (Tulkus); others have won respect for their high level of spiritual development in this life.
To date our Khangtsen has produced three Abbots of Sera Jey monestary.
They are the:
- 8th Ser-Jey Khenpo, Abbot, Panchen Delek Nyima
- 48th Ser-Jey Khenpo, Abbot, Thogmed Chogtul Rinpoche
- 70th Ser-Jey Khenpo, Abbot, Ven. Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Thegchok
There have been six renowned recognized reincarnated Lamas and Tulkus from our Khangtsen. They are:
- Jedrub Khangpa Gelek Gyatso
- Thogmed Chogtul Rincpoche
- Rigkya Chogtul Rinpoche
- Panchen Delek Nyima
- Guge Lachung
- Thoding Tulku
- Geshe Ngawang Sangye
Veneberable Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Thegchok
Born in 1930, Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok became a monk at the age of eight. He studied the major Buddhist treatises at Sera-je Monastic University in Tibet for 14 years before fleeing his homeland in 1959 after the abortive uprising of the Tibetans against the Communist Chinese occupation of their country.
After staying in the refugee camp at Buxa, India, Rinpoche went to Varanasi, where he obtained his Acharya (Master) Degree and taught for seven years.
He then began teaching in the West – three years in England and ten years at Nalanda Monastery in France, and then in the United States.
In 1993, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed him as abbott of Sera Jhe Monastic University in India. He has recently retired from that post.
Since that time until now he is at the Sera Jey monastery and resides at our Khangtsen. 2007 he turned 76 and is enjoying a very good reputation as a respected teacher in our monastery. He still tours the world and lectures both western and eastern Buddhist students alike. Presently he teaches in Italy.
Click on the picture of the book to go the Lama Yeshe Archive.
Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok is the author of “Transforming Adversity into Joy and Courage: An Explanation of the Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas”, and a commentary on Seven-point Mind Training released in 2007/2008 by The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.
During Khensur Rinpoche’s tenure as the Abbot of Sera jey Monastery, he successfully assumed the spiritual and temporal responsibilities of the Monastery. Some of his outstanding contributions/achievements are:
- The present Sera Prayer Hall and the mess of Sera Jey was successfully completed. His holiness the Dalai Lama graciously presided over the inauguration ceremony of the new Assembly hall.
- He also set up the present Library Cum Computer project and expanded the area of the debating ground. The present park on the right side of the prayer hall was made exclusively for the purpose of the senior monks to relax their mind and bodies.
- He also made a great contribution in the progress of Sera Jey Secondary School and the Management of Sera Jey Health Care committe.
Venerable Rigkya Rinpoche
The present Rigya Rinpoche Tenzin Choedar was born in Mon-Tawang on the 24th June 1979. At the age of 4, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognized him as a reincarnation of the 10th Rikya Thupten Gelek Kunkhyen. He was then enthroned to his Predecessor’s Seat at Rikya Samtenling Labrang & Tawang Monastery in 1984. The following year, Rinpoche joined Sera Jey Monastic University .
The lineage of Rikya Lama tracesback to the Great Indian Master-Arhata Nyimagungpa and Great Yogi Basukala and Tibetan Master Lha Lama Yeshi Od. The 6th Rikya Lama Palden Yeshi was a reputed scholar who became the tutor to the 6th Panchen Lama.
In 18th century, the 7th Rikya Rinpoche established Rigkya Samten Ling Monastery near Sera monastery in Tibet . This monastery had a special association to the wellbeing and long life of the successive Dalai Lamas. The 11th and the Great 13th Dalai Lama stayed there for a year. The present 14th Dalai Lama had visited there as well. There were plenty of Ngari Khambu (peach) grown in the monastic premise which were traditionally being offered to the Dalai Lama every year. The successive Rikya Lamas take care of the management and supervision of that monastery.
Venerable Bodong Rinpoche
The present Bodong Rinpoche Tenzin Thutop Jigdrel was born on the 7th Feb, 1992 in Nepal. In 1996, at the age 4, the little boy was recognized as a reincarnation of the Great Lama Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375) of Bodong Tradition by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. After the recognition, he was enthroned to his Predecessor’s Seat at Bodong Pemo Choeding Monastery in Nepal.
He then joined Dzongchoe Monastery in 2000 and began the preliminary study of Buddhist texts and modern education under the guidance of Gen Jampa Soepa and Geshe Pema Dorjee – Ex-director of Sarah College, Dharamsala. Rinpoche has received various teachings, initiation and oral transmissions before His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the great master and high Lamas of other Tibetan Buddhist Traditions.
His predecessor, Lama Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375) was a distinguished and well-acclaimed scholar who was constituted to the Sakya Throne and assumed the spiritual and temporal responsibilities of Sakya Tradition for many years. Later on, he established Bodong Buddhist Tradition. His innumerable discourses and spiritual works constituted seventy nine various Buddhist volumes. The Great Lama Tsongkhapa also had received many Tantric teachings from this accomplished master.
On advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rinpoche joined Sera Jey Monastic University on 24th Oct, 2006 to engage in the Buddhist Philosophical studies under the great spiritual masters.
Tulku Tenzin Leksung
Ven Tulku Tenzin Leksung, born 2002, was born as a reincarnated Lama of a great Buddhist Scholar and Practitioner Late Venerable Kachen Dugyal la of Sumling village, Spiti valley. Kachen-la joined Chode Chenmo Tashi Lhunpo monastery; one of Tibet’s principal Buddhist Learning Centre and earned Kachen Degree (Equivalent to Geshe degree in Sera, Drepung and Gaden Monasteries) after successfully completed the vast and profound courses of major Buddhist philosophical treaties there. He was also honored by His Holiness the Great 9th Pachen Lama, since then he is known as Kachen Dugyal.
The reincarnation of Kachen Dugyal, the little boy Ven. Tulku Tenzin Leksung was born on 17th January, 2002 in Choglamsar, Leh Ladakh. His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama, champion of world peace, with his infinite compassion and loving kindness to sentients, being graciously recognized the little Rinchen Namgyal as the unmistaken reincarnation of the late Ven. Kachen Dugyal. He received a grand enthronement in the key monastery, Spiti with an enormous welcome by the people of Spiti and adjoining villages, as well as Chode Chenmo Tashi Lhunpu monastery in Bylakuppe. The reincarnated boy joined Sera Jey Ngari Khangtsen on 15th March, 2012 at 3:00 pm with warm and hearty welcome by the administrative officials.
Geshe Ngawang Sangye, Ph.D. in Philosophy
Geshe Ngawang Sangye was born on the 8th Feb, 1970 in Ladakh, Northern India. In 1979, at the age of 10, he joined Ngari Khangtsen, a unit of Sera Jey Monastic University . At 13, he received Getsul vows from His Eminence Ling Rinpoche – the Senior Tutor of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He then received the Full Ordination Vow of a Bikkshu from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Sera when he was 21 years of age.
He began his formal traditional monastic education under the renowned spiritual masters of Sera Jey. He dedicated and devoted more than 15 years in mastering over the Five Major Buddhist Treaties by Indian Pandits of Nalanda Tradition of Buddhist philosophy and its extensive commentaries by Tibetan accomplished Master Lama TsongKhapa and Jestun Choekyi Gyaltsen.
By the age of 31, in 2001, he earned the Geshe Lharampa Degree, doctorate degree in Buddhist Philosophy, and Tantrayana degree in Gyumed Trantric College.
He has been conducting Buddhist classes to nearly 420 students rigorously on regular basis at Sera. He is one of the leading residential teachers in Sera Monastery – based on the fact of his great scholarship, insights and long experience in teaching. Apart from that, he has unique qualities like a great sense of humour and humility while conducting class, the warmth of his personality is enjoyed by all his students alike. He oversees the welfare, education of the young students and the development projects of Sera Ngari Khangtsen (Education Society) as well. Geshe-la travels to Ladakh to give Dharma teachings to lay community and rising generations of Ladakh. He often visits Buddhist Centers in Italy and United States to impart Buddhist studies to his Western Dharma students and friends.
Venerable Steve Carlier, teacher and translator
Venerable Steve Carlier was born in the UK, and has been studying Buddhism since 1977. He first met Lama Yeshe, the founder of the FPMT, and Lama Zopa, its current head, in 1978. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk by Lama Zopa in 1979 and received full ordination from Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche the following year. He studied for eleven years at Nalanda Monastery in France, and from 1993 to 2004 was one of only a handful of Westerners who have followed the Nalanda (India) tradition of studies at Sera Monastery in India. Since 1978 he has been a student of the revered abbot emeritus of Sera Jey monastery, Geshe Jampa Tegchog. More recently he has served as this great master’s interpreter.