Karchen-la Celebrates His 101st Birthday Karchen-la Celebrates His 101st Birthday
Venerable Karchen Lobsang Chodar was born in Shigatse, central Tibet. At a very young age, he enrolled in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, one of the... Karchen-la Celebrates His 101st Birthday

Venerable Karchen Lobsang Chodar was born in Shigatse, central Tibet. At a very young age, he enrolled in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, one of the largest monastic universities in Tibet where, alongside thousands of fortunate young monks like himself, diligently studied the topics of Sutra and Tantra.

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No time is wasted. At the age of 101, Karchen-la continues to practice the Lam Rim in all aspects of his life.

Upon completion of his basic studies in Tashi Lhunpo, Karchen-la spent eight years in Sera Jey Monastic University in Tibet to further his studies before returning once again to Tashi Lhunpo. It was in Sera Jey that he became classmates with various leading Buddhist masters today, amongst them Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, one of the most respected and well known Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West.

Karchen-la is a direct disciple of our illustrious lineage Lama, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, from whom he received many teachings, initiations and empowerments. In fact, Karchen-la is one of the last surviving direct disciples of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche in the 21st Century.

When the Tibetan Uprising began in 1959, Karchen-la made the arduous journey through the Himalayas to India. Despite encountering great hardship and having to adjust to life in a foreign land with vastly differing culture and environment, Karchen-la’s determined pursuit of the Dharma never waned.

Karchen-la's 101st birthday celebrations in Phelgyeling Monastery

Karchen-la’s 101st birthday celebrations in Phelgyeling Monastery

In India, Karchen-la lived a solitary life in various places such as Vanarasi, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Sikkim. Alongside his private retreats and meditation practices, Karchen-la continued to receive teachings and initiations from various great masters of our time such as His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Rato Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Panglung Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche and many others.

A beautiful birthday cake was lovingly prepared

A beautiful birthday cake was lovingly prepared

In the later half of his life, Karchen-la spent much time in solitary retreat in Nepal. During this time, he would often visit Phelgyeling Monastery in Kathmandu and in 1999, the monastery invited Karchen-la to live in their monastery long term so that they could care for the needs of this ageing but great meditation master.

To this day, this highly realised teacher continues to live the life of a very simple monk in Phelgyeling Monastery.

Karchen-la and Venerable Geshe Tenzin Palchok

Karchen-la and Venerable Geshe Tenzin Palchok

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  • Stella Cheang

    Posted on September 17, 2016 #1 Author

    Thank you for sharing this article on one of the last surviving direct disciples of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche in this century, Venerable Karchen Lobsang Chodar. Venerable Karchen Lobsang Chodar recently celebrated his one hundred and first birthday. He was born in Shigatse, central Tibet and studied in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery when he was young. He spent eight years in Sera Jey Monastic University in Tibet to further his studies after he had completed his study in Tashi Lhunpo. After the uprising in 1959, Karchen-la travelled to India and continued to pursue Dharma as well as receive teachings and initiations. The various great masters of this time whom Karchen-la received teachings from such as His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Rato Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Panglung Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche and many others. It is very inspiring to see a highly realized teacher, to this day, live the life of a very simple monk in Phelgyeling Monastery.

    Reply

  • Fong

    Posted on September 18, 2016 #2 Author

    Wow, a direct disciple of the great Pabhongka Rinpoche and classmate of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso! A great meditation master and a humble student of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Rato Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Panglung Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche.

    And, in all his years of spending in retreats, he also continued to seek teachings and initiations from great master. Very inspiring indeed.

    Happy birthday, Karchen La.

    Reply

  • Sarah Yap

    Posted on September 19, 2016 #3 Author

    I’m fortunate to have met Karchenla and received his blessings earlier this year. From the outlook, he was just another old humble monk, you would never guessed Karchenla is such a great scholar and practitioner!

    Glad to read so much about Karchenla. It still amazes me how much ordeals Karchenla must have gone through in this life, and yet stayed strong and practiced the Dharma. A true sincere practitioner, with only Enlightenment in mind, and never allowed outer conditions to deter him.

    Reply

  • Justin Cheah

    Posted on October 16, 2016 #4 Author

    Karchen-La is a remarkable Sangha. He spent his life doing retreats and studying the Sutra and Tantra and have the great merits to be studying from erudite masters of our time. What impresses me most is His humility and for such a well learned master to be leading a simple monk life.

    Reply

  • Sofi

    Posted on January 9, 2017 #5 Author

    Such a rejoice at the celebration of Venerable Karchen Lobsang Chodar’s 101st birthday! May we be blessed with his long and healthy life as more attained Masters are needed in this age where many had degenerated in their ignorance. Kachen-La will serve as an inspiration to the younger monks & practitioners with his rich knowledge. I could just imagine the tremendous stories that he could share of his experience with the Great Lamas like Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, etc. I wonder if he had stories to share of our Guru’s previous incarnation as Tsem Kentrul Thubten Lamsang. Thank you for sharing with us story of this great practitioner who placed the practice above all else.

    Reply