The Gaden Tripa is the Holder of the Gaden Throne, considered to be the representative of Lama Tsongkhapa on earth. It is a title given to the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school that administered Central Tibet from the mid-17th Century until the 1950s.
The Gaden Tripa is a separate person and function from the Abbot of Gaden Monastery, the main monastery associated with the Gelugpa School founded by Lama Tsongkhapa. Gaden Monastery has two monastic colleges, Gaden Shartse and Gaden Jangtse. Neither abbot can be appointed to the position of Gaden Tripa unless they have held the post of abbot of either Gyuto Tantric College or Gyume Tantric College.
The 101st Gaden Tripa, His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal was born in 1927 in Kham (eastern Tibet). He was ordained in 1935 at the tender age of eight when he joined the local monastery in Yangding. Following that, he entered Gaden Shartse Norling College as a student and studied Pramanavarttika (Logic), Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) and Madhyamika (Middle Way Philosophy) under the guidance of various highly attained Masters. He also received many precious teachings and empowerments from the pure Gaden lineage.
In 1959, Trisur Rinpoche escaped to India, arriving at the India-Bhutan border town of Ba Se to continue his studies and meditation retreats. It was here that Trisur Rinpoche completed his education in the Madhyamika, Abhidharma (Treasury of Knowledge), and Vinaya (Spiritual Rules and Moral Law).
In 1969, Trisur Rinpoche accomplished the Five Major Treatises of Buddhist Philosophy and participated in the final exam at a renowned local Tibetan University, graduating in the 1st position of honour. Consequently, he joined Gyuto Tantric University and focused on intensive study of the Tantras.
In 1970, he was officially conferred the title of Geshe Lharampa (equivalent to a Ph.D.) when he emerged at the top of a major debate held for 20 days. This debate had over 30 candidates from the three great monasteries (Gaden, Sera and Drepung) and other universities.
In 1973, he was also conferred the title of Geshe Ngarampa (Specialist in Tantra) after 40 years of intensive practice and study in all fields of Buddhist Sutra and Tantra including the Five Major Treatises of Buddhist Philosophy as well as an extraordinary monastic education which included numerous sacred rituals.
In 1983, after 50 years of meditative practices and studies, he was elevated to the post of Abbot of the Tantric University of Gyutö by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
On 27 October 1986 he was the special envoy of the Dalai Lama to the Ecumenical Encounters of Assisi in Italy convened by Pope John Paul II with 32 Christian religious organisations and 11 other non-Christian world religions, including representatives from Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism and African and North American animism. In all, there were 160 religious leaders spending the day together, fasting and praying to their God(s). This is known as the World Day of Prayer for Peace, an event generally treated as commemorative in nature rather than an actual liturgical memorial.
In 1992, he was elevated to the post of Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastic University. During the years of Trisur Rinpoche’s abbotship, apart from supervising the administration and discipline of the Sangha, he also conducted various pujas and teachings personally. His contribution towards the monastery is widely recognised and deeply respected by all.
In 1995, he was bestowed the honorary rank of Sharpa Choje making him the second highest dignitary in the ranks of the Gelugpa school. This stemmed from the fact he was an abbot emeritus of Gyutö Tantric College.
On 20 January 2003, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama announced the appointment of Khensur Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche as the 101st Gaden Tripa in Bodhgaya at the conclusion of the Kalachakra empowerment. He held the post for the customary seven years.
Since his retirement, Trisur Rinpoche has been living in Paris, France and is a French national. He transmits the Buddhist teachings of his lineage at his Dharma centre, Thar Deu Ling which he founded in 1980. Furthermore, he has been travelling the world propagating the Buddhadharma in many countries including France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, America, China, and Singapore.
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