His Eminence Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was born in the Kham region of Eastern Tibet in 1922 and entered monastic life at the tender age of 10 upon being recognised as the incarnation of the great practitioner Gongkar Rinpoche.
At the age of 15, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was enrolled in Gaden Shartse Norling College in Central Tibet, one of the most prestigious and renowned monastic universities in the country. In 1959, after 19 years of intensive study and training, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche sat for the Geshe examinations at the summer palace of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, located in the capital of Tibet, Lhasa.
Kyabje Lati Rinpoche achieved the second highest distinction amongst all the other candidates of this major examination, which included various scholars and top students from the three main Gelug monasteries, and was officially conferred the title of “Geshe Lharampa” (which is a qualification equivalent to a PhD degree in Buddhist Philosophy).
A year after such official conferment, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche enrolled in Gyutö Tantric College in Lhasa where he undertook the intensive training and study of Tantra. During this period, he also served as tutor to many young reincarnate masters and gave numerous public teachings.
Following the Tibetan Uprising of 10 March 1959, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche went into exile with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to escape the oppression of the Communist occupation and in 1964, was appointed the Spiritual Assistant to His Holiness.
Despite being in exile, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche steadfastly continued to spread the Dharma by teaching at various monasteries and schools including Namgyal Gompa, the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama, and was known for giving illuminating Dharma discourses to both Sangha and laypeople alike.
In 1976, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche accepted invitations to teach on a wide range of Buddhist subjects in the United States including at the University of Virginia and other centres of higher learning. After teaching in the United States for over a year, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche returned to India to serve as the Abbot of Gaden Shartse for eight years, from 1976 to 1984. During his tenure, he not only managed the administration, discipline and order of the Sangha, but also personally taught extensively on all aspects of Buddhism. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s contribution to Gaden Shartse Monastery is widely recognised by all, and he is deeply respected by many devotees all over the world.
An erudite Dharma teacher, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche is the Root Guru of many attained Gelugpa masters and scholars today including His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche and His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche.
It was Kyabje Lati Rinpoche together with His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche who instructed His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche to travel to Southeast Asia in order to raise funds for much needed hostels for the monks of Gaden Monastery. This started a chain of events which culminated in Tsem Rinpoche establishing a permanent base in Malaysia and the founding of the Kechara Buddhist organisation.
Kyabje Lati Rinpoche has authored many important books on Tibetan Buddhism, including Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth, Mind in Tibetan Buddhism, and Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism.
On 12 April 2010 at the age of 88, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche entered clear light in his residence after manifesting slight stomach trouble. Just prior to his passing, Lati Rinpoche had circumambulated His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple.
Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s body was respectfully escorted to Gyutö Tantric College in Dharamsala before being flown to Gaden Monastery in South India, where the traditional funerary rites for a high Lama were performed. Upon opening the funeral pyre, the monks discovered the unburned heart, eyes and tongue; an auspicious sign that indicates the perfection of body, speech and mind.
All ceremonies were done in accordance with tradition in order to create the causes for Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s incarnation to return to continue his unexcelled deeds. It is also a testament to Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s tremendous contribution to the Buddhadharma that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama deemed it necessary to compose a prayer for the quick return of Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s incarnation.
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