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Category: Print Media

Many sides to this monk

This fabulous coverage, authored by Yashvendra Singh, has appeared in one of the leading business magazines in India, Business India titled "Many sides to this Monk". This incisive and genial article has been generated as a result of the interview with His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa in Hong Kong. The article lays stress on Drukpa Lineage and His Holiness work for the preservation of environment. Click here to download a copy of the article in PDF format.

Read more: Many sides to this monk

Category: Print Media

11-year-old boy from US becomes Darjeeling lama

by Amitava Banerjee, Hindustan Times, 30th October 2009 (Download original news coverage in PDF format) - Darjeeing: An 11-year-old Boston schoolboy was on Wednesday anointed by the head of a Buddhist head in Darjeeling as the reincarnation of a high-ranking lama who died more than 750 years ago.

Jigme Wangchuk, a fifth grade student of St. Peter's School in Boston, will be known as the Second Gyalwa Lorepa of the Drukpa sect. The first Gyalwa Lorepa died in 1250 in Tibet.

The US-born Wangchuk, now revered by lakhs of followers in Nepal, Bhutan and Ladakh as the rinpoche (high priest) of the Druk Sangag Choeling Monastery in Darjeeling, told HT at the monastery, "It's a big transition. I do miss being a cheerful schoolboy, I miss my home, my grandparents, aunts and uncles. However, being a rinpoche is a great honour."

The "cheerful schoolboy", as he described himself, will continue his (monastic) studies at the monastery itself. "But my parents will keep visiting me here. And I'll keep in touch with my friends through email," he added.

His parents, who moved to the US from Dharamsala in 1989, have sold their restaurant in Boston and moved to Darjeeling. And his 10-year-old sister, Tashi Norzum, who is very close to him, will soon join a school in Darjeeling.

Talking about Wangchuk's transition, his mother Dechen said: "He used to always talk about his past life but we did not take it seriously, dubbing it as a child's fantasies."

But 2 years ago, when the family was visiting the Kagyu Nalanda Monastery in Mysore, Wangchuk suddenly stopped playing and started narrating his past life as it in a trance. After other senior lamas corroborated the Gyalwang Drukpa's finding, it was decided to initiate the boy into priesthood.

"It has been a very difficult period for us over the past 2 years," said Dechen. "I have been crying for the past five months, but have, at last, come to terms with it. When we were in New Delhi on our way to Darjeeling, I asked him whether he would like to go back to Boston. He said he has to fulfill his responsibilities to his people."

Category: Print Media

A lotus in the desert

Nalini Menon (Deccan Chronical) - A green school that is a fascinating reflection of inter-cultural dialogue (click here to read the original article in PDF format)

Is your child going to a green school? No, don't fall over with shock, this is a trend that is slowly but surely making an impact worldwide. The Green Schools Initiative, for example was founded in the US in 2004 by parent-environmentalists who were alarmed to find how un-environment-friendly their kids' schools were. Determined to protect their children's health - at school and in the world beyond - they worked on a "Four Pillars" framework that integrated efforts to reduce the schools' ecological footprints. In India too, the Centre for Science and Environment's Green Schools Programme involves the assessment of the environmental practices of schools by their students.

Taking off from here is a school that is the winner of three World Architecture Awards - for the best "Asian Building", the best "Green Building" and the best "Education Building". And recently the prestigious British Council for School Environment (BCSE) award for the most "Inspiring Design". "The local community and the designers have shared their expertise to produce buildings that are ... a fascinating reflection of an inter-cultural dialogue," said BCSE.

This unique initiative that was advanced by the Druk Pema Karpo Education Society (a non-profit Ladakhi society), supported by the Drukpa Trust, is situated around 15 km southeast of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. Called the Druk White Lotus School, this is one of India's most innovative "green" schools. Designed to provide education from kindergarten and nursery through to secondary education and vocational training, the school is named after the 4th Gyalwang Drukpa, Kunkhyen Padma Karpo, who is revered as the greatest scholar of the Drukpa lineage.

Inspired by His Holiness, Gyalwang Drukpa, the 12th spiritual head of the Drukpa Buddhist sect, which owns and manages the school and designed by Arup Associates the school has building blocks that trap sunlight through glass panels and solar discs. The classrooms use natural light. The rays of the early sun filter in through a row of light vents facing the east, the noon sun pours in through a column of overhead light shafts and the evening sun bathes the rooms in a golden glow through glass panes facing the west. The light shafts are complemented by tall French windows that open out to the east.

The solar panels outside harness the energy from the sun to keep the turbines running. "We commissioned the solar generator in 2008 because Ladakh has nearly 300 days of clear sunshine," said Philip Cornwell, First Chair of the Drukpa Trust, London. "The design team strongly believed that building in a context like Ladakh would need to be responsive to that particular extraordinary environment; buildings would need to be designed as intuitive and easy to operate; the site would use the available resources in a sustainable and appropriate way; the overall design would support the teaching and learning activities by providing simple, flexible and comfortable spaces that celebrate local culture and skills. This was in clear contrast to the high-tech approach often adopted in the area in the recent years," said Francesca Galeazzi of Arup Associates. "The plan for the school buildings is based on the traditional nine-square grid of the mandala, a symbolic figure of particular significance in Buddhist philosophy, surrounded by a series of concentric circles, formed by low walls, stupas and willow trees," she added.

The award winning features of the school were the ventilation improved pit latrines that did not need water "in a desert environment", passive solar heating devices and "trombe" walls that trapped heat and released it slowly through narrow spaces between the facades, a gravity feed water system that pumped snow-melt water from a depth of 30 metres and anti-seismic wooden rods and steel support structures to withstand earthquakes.

A spokesperson at the Drukpa's office explained that the "trombe walls are used to provide evening heat to the dormitories. They are constructed of ventilated mud-brick and granite cavity walls with double glazing. They are coated externally with a dark, heat-absorbing material and faced with a double layer of glass. As the sun heats up this surface, heat is stored in the mass wall and later conducted inwards to the dormitory rooms at night by way of operable vents."

The school also offers a carbon offset investment programme to visitors flying into Ladakh to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in the school's solar generator system. Meanwhile work on the school continues with the addition of a new library and more classrooms -all going on to show what commitment to greening the environment can achieve!

Category: Print Media

News in Hindi (Himalayan Darpan)

Click image to download news in PDF format.

Category: Print Media

The Reincarnate

Hindustan Times, 8th November 2009 (Click here to download actual article in PDF format) - IT WAS PROBABLY the last thing his family expected but inevitably, it was meant to be. Life as he knew it completely changed. His days of playing in the schoolyard with his friends seem a distant memory. MOHINDER VERMA meets the boy who found the key to unlock his past life.

Had it not been for his dreams of a past life, 11-year-old Jigme Wangchuk would still have been playing with his friends in Boston, where his family ran a successful restaurant business. However, now young U.S. has been enthroned as a "reincarnation" of the celebrated twelfth century saint, Gyalwa Lorepa, who passed away in 1250 AD. The boy has now become a rinpoche (high priest) of a Buddhist sub-sect called Drukpa. He will be revered as the Second Gyalwa Lorepa among the lakhs of sect followers from Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan.

It was guidance by the oracles in a Drukpa monastery in Bhutan, the spiritual upheavals in the boy, and his determination to return to his "home" in a Bhutan monastery (named after Gyalwa Lorepa), that identified the boy, according to the head of the Drukpa Lineage, Gyalwang Drukpa, from Darjeeling. Jigme has been enthroned as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa, a disciple of the founder of Drukpa Lineage.


Jigme's family says the boy had shown signs of growing restlessness since infancy. "He kept talking of his past life and his home in the Himalayas, but we did not take it seriously, thinking it to be child's fantasy," says his mother Dechen.

Also, while on a pilgrimage to Bhutan, Jigme's uncle, Karma Rinpoche, heard an oracle in a monastery to return Jigme to the care of the Gyalwang Drukpa.

In 2007, when the family was visiting Kagyu Nalanda monastery in Mysore, Jigme suddenly stopped playing and started narrating his past life as if in a trance. "He talked about the monastery (in Bhutan), being situated in a rocky area of the Himalayas with a 35-foot long dragon adorning its rooftop," says his uncle. Four hours after the boy recited his vision, the twelfth incarnate of Tsangpa Gyare, another Drukpa monk, sent word to the family, recognising the boy as Gyalwa Lorepa. "I even visited the monastery in Bhutan to see if it really matches with Jigme's description," says his mother. "When I found it was true, I realised he was the real incarnate," his mother says.


Now, for Jigme, life would revolve around Buddhist teachings and philosophy as he commences his monastic training in the Darjeeling monastery. Earlier, he studied in class five at St. Peter's School in Boston, and now he will spend nearly six to seven years studying the Buddhist scriptures, away from his old home. "I do miss being a joyful schoolboy and my home, my friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles," says Jigme.

But his parents are by his side. They migrated to the U.S. in 1989 from Dharamsala, but have now moved along with their son to Darjeeling after selling their business in Boston. "We have moved here to be with Jigme while he's studying at the monastery," his mother, Dechen says. Jigme's 10-year-old sister will be admitted in a local school.

Dechen says her tears were endless once she realised her son was to stay away from her forever. But Jigme consoled her, explaining that he was destined to be a rinpoche and could only be happy being here. "Being a rinpoche is such a great honour. I feel blessed with my past responsibilities," he says.

Category: Print Media

10-year-old 'reincarnate' to revisit as saint

By Romit Bagchi, The Statesman, 29th October 2009 (Click here to download the original news coverage in PDF format) - Blurring the seemingly tenuous borders between the tangible and the intangible further, a 10-year old boy hailing from Boston, United States of America, was enthroned as a "reincarnation" of the celebrated 12th century saint, Gyalwa Lorepa amidst hundreds of devotes including a number of foreigners from Europe and America in the Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery in Darjeeling today.

"The infallible guidance by way of oracles heard in a celebrated Drukpa monastery in Bhutan preceded by the spiritual upheavals in the boy manifested in his determination to return to his 'home' in a Bhutan-based monastery named after Gyalwa Lorepo has made the miracle possible. We are proud to have enthroned him today as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepo, one of the first two disciples of the first Gyalwang Drukpa, the founder of the Drukpa linage, at a time when the profounder views of life suffused with the doctrine of karma and reincarnation show signs of being revived all over the world. The advent of the saint by way of reincarnation indicates the end of the reign of skepticism and return of the millennium of faith," said the head of the Drukpa Lineage, Gyalwang Drukpa.

It is learnt from the boy's family sources that he had shown signs of growing restlessness since infancy. Narrating the sequence of events leading to its consummation, his sister said that these were as much mentally exciting as spiritually edifying.

"He kept harping to our pain that his home was far away from the materialistic life in the Western world in a cloistered monastic life amidst the Himalayan seclusion. To accelerate things further, while on a pilgrimage to Bhutan, my uncle heard an oracle in a monastery asking him to return my brother to the care of Gyalwang Drukpa, his true spiritual mentor.

"In a befuddled state of mind, my mother disposed our property in the United States and came to Darjeeling. We subsequently found that my brother's real home is the 700-year old Tharpa Linng Monastery in eastern Bhutan," she said.

Speaking on the reincarnation phenomenon, a teacher from London, Mr Merian Makaoti said that it was his maiden encounter with what the Western world was inclined to state as a weird case of para- psychology. "Provided we admit the post- death existence of soul and its transmigration on an upward scale through successive births and dissolutions, there is nothing thaumaturgical in the conception of reincarnation. Memory might come back from behind the amnesiac penumbra of myriad births at a momentous juncture of the terrestrial evolution of a human soul," he said. Calling the experience as approximating to what the Romantic poet Coleridge termed as "willing suspension of disbelief", another foreigner from France, Mrs Drolne said that skepticism regarding the subtler truths of life fuelled restlessness. "Peace is in faith even if the faith revolts against the so-called omniscience of the materialistic puritans," she stated.

Category: Print Media

Eleven-year-old Jigme Wangchuk was enthroned last week and, as a leader, is aware of the responsibilites

The Boston Schoolboy

Amitava Banerjee, Hindustan Times, 8th November 2009 (PDF file of the original newsclip will be provided here in a few days) - The handwriting is somewhat shaky and there are some spelling corrections. Par for the course for an 11-year-old. But the thoughts expressed display an uncommon fervour between child-like confessions: "I do miss being a joyful schoolboy, and my friends, my home, my grandparents, aunts and uncles," admits Jigme Wangchuk. Jigme, the Boston schoolboy who was identified - and enthroned last week - as the reincarnation of the Gyalwa Lorepa, a high-ranking spiritual leader of the Drukpa sect of Tantrayana Buddhism, has switched universes with astounding ease.

Jigme Wangchuk as a babyBorn on April 10, 1998 in the US to Chosang and Dechen Wangchuk, who had migrated to Boston from India, Jigme went to St Peter School, was a die-hard fan of the Boston Celtics basketball team, and liked hip-hop, rock music, Internet games and McDonald's burgers. Now, at the Druk Sangag Choeling monastery in Dali, 4 km from Darjeeling, he wakes up at 5am and first prays for his ailing grandmother. Then he learns to read and memorise Tibetan prayers and studies Buddhist philosophy for the rest of the day. During breaks, he eases off with board games or plays with another young reincarnate, Chokyi Gyatso from Ladakh. His day ends at 8.30pm.

On Sunday, his day off, the Lorepa is allowed to meet his parents or chat with his friends in Boston on the Internet. Other days, he is allowed to make just one call to his parents. Such a transition could unsettle anyone. But then, the Lorepa is not just anyone - he is the spiritual leader of thousands, a child before whom his parents must now bow. And he's doing just fine, thank you.

He tells HT: "People think it's a very big change and I would feel very sad and isolated. But I don't feel lonely at all. In fact, I am quite busy and have a lot of things to learn."

Parents and sister: Dechen(L), Tashi Norzom and Chosang WangchukIt is an equanimity he seems to have been born with. "He never argued and spoke little, but was loved by everyone. He had something magnetic about him," says Karma Rinpoche, his uncle. His fifth-grade teacher, Mark E. Smith, recalls a "wonderful boy" who "had a great sense of humour and was always looking out for his classmates". Smith talks of his student's creative side: "He enjoyed the style of anime (Japanese animation) and had a great imagination which came out in his writing assignments."

His mother Dechen fills in another shade to her son's personality, saying his early ambitions were to be either a zoo-keeper or an archaeologist. "He always had an affinity towards animals, antiques and historical things," she says. Jigme would also have strange visions and would often talk about seeing dragons, symbols auspicious in Buddhism. "Two years ago on a visit to the Kagyu Nalanda Monastery in Mysore, Jigme suddenly stopped playing and started narrating his past life as if in a trance,"recalls Dichen. He talked of living in a monastery somewhere in the Himalayas, surrounded by huge rocks and a dragon, 32 feet in length.

Two hours after the incident, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa sect, declared that having used all the prescribed methods he had identified Jigme as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa - the first in 759 years. The Wangchuks sold their Tibetan restaurant in Boston and relocated to Darjeeling along with Jigme's sister Tashi Norzom. It was not easy. "I have been crying for the past five months, but have come to terms with it now," admits Dechen. Her son took the transition far better. "I asked whether he would like to go back to Boston. He said he has a lot of responsibility to a lot of people who have a lot of hope in him. This makes him very strong,"she says.

He will need that strength. Gyalwang Drukpa says, "I am very careful and conservative in recognising reincarnations, because they all have a very heavy responsibility to make Samsara (the world of sentient beings) a better place." The Lorepa will receive his monastic education in Darjeeling for the next six to seven years after which he will move to Bhutan for higher studies. But right now, he is looking forward to a trip to Ladakh. "His Holiness said he will be taking me and my parents to Ladakh in February... I heard it is very cold, like minus 40 degrees, so I think my winter clothing from Boston will help," says the 11 year old. His immediate past remains as vivid as his centuries-old one.

Category: Print Media

From Boston, after 759 years

Boy enthroned rinpoche near Darjeeling - by Vivek Chhetri, Telegraph, 28th October 2009: The boys at St Peter's School in Boston will have to be a bit guarded when they get in touch with little Jigme Wangchuk from now on.

Download original article in PDF format: Part 1 and Part 2.

Ten-year-old Tashi Norzum, too, will have to get used to a new life and school in Darjeeling so that she is not very far from her brother.

The two adaptations in young lives, so everyday in modern times, bookmark a chronicle that stretches as far back as 759 years.

Jigme Wangchuk, an 11-year-old boy based in Boston, was today enthroned near Darjeeling as the reincarnation of Gyalwa Lorepa, a monk who passed away in 1250 AD.

The boy has now become a rinpoche (high priest) of a Buddhist sub-sect called Drukpa. The Dalai Lama belongs to another sect called Gelugpa but is revered by the entire Tibetan community as he is its spiritual and political leader.

Just as the Dalai Lama is known as the 14th incarnate, the boy will be revered as the Second Gyalwa Lorepa among the sect's followers who number lakhs and spread over mostly Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan.

The fifth-grader from Boston's St Peter's School will now have to spend the rest of his life at the Druk-Sa-Ngag Choeling monastery at Dali, 3km from Darjeeling. He can visit Boston later in his life but to deliver discourses. If he badly misses his friends back in the US - he is an American citizen now - he can speak to them but the conversation cannot be as carefree as what 11-year-olds usually indulge in.

During his training, which can stretch up to a decade, the Second Gyalwa Lorepa is not expected to speak to lay persons.

But the boy can send emails - a digital window to the world he referred to today while fielding questions in writing. "As for my friends, I will contact them through email," he said.

The reincarnate touched upon some things he has left behind. "It is a big transition, and yes, I do miss being a joyful schoolboy and my friends, my home, my grandparents, aunts and uncles."

I feel blessed, writes Rinpoche

The rinpoche added later: "In fact, I already miss them" but took solace in the fact that his parents had moved to Darjeeling to serve him.

His parents - Chosang, a businessman, and mother Dechen - is planning to send his kid sister Tashi Norzum to a school in Darjeeling. "We have left Boston and have to live in Darjeeling along with my husband Chosang and my 10-year-old daughter Tashi Norzum," Dechen said.

The rinpoche also acknowledged the enormity of the occasion. "But being a rinpoche is such a great honour and I feel blessed with my past responsibilities," he wrote in reply to a question.

"It is after 700 years that the reincarnation has arrived," said Karma Rinpoche, the boy's uncle.

Reincarnations are identified through an elaborate procedure. In 2007, when the boy was visiting the Kagyu-Nalanda monastery near Mysore, he had spoken of his past life describing his vision of monasteries as they stood then, including one in Bhutan.

"He talked about the monastery (in Bhutan) being situated in a rocky area of the Himalayas with a 35-foot-long dragon adorning its rooftop," recalled Karma Rinpoche. Four hours after the boy recited his vision, the 12th incarnate of Tsangpa Gyare - another Drukpa monk - sent word to the family, recognising the boy as Gyalwa Lorepa.

The first Lorepa had received his initial teachings from the first Gyare. After Gyare passed away, Lorepa had meditated on Mount Kailash for 13 years and founded the Tharpa Ling monastery in Bhutan. His followers belong to the Drukpa lineage, which is part of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.

"I even visited the monastery in Bhutan to see if it really matches with his description. When I found it was true, I realised he was the real incarnate," mother Dechen said.

Today, as the drone of gyaling (a Tibetan musical instrument) rose from the monastery on a mild day - it was 20 degrees Celsius in Darjeeling and 11 degrees Celsius in Boston - the rinpoche wrote down the answer to the third and last question: "I like it here."

Category: Print Media

Solitary splendour: Leh's colourful festival amid beauty of Ladakh

Released on 5th November 2009, Madhvi Sally of The Economic Times (India) gives an spectacular coverage on the Pad Yatra and His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa's Live to Love initiatives. Click to view the original article.

Read more: Solitary splendour: Leh's colourful festival amid beauty of Ladakh

Category: Print Media

The Last Paradise on Earth

This article, authored by Scott MacMillan, was released in Hospodářské noviny (English: "Economic News"), a daily newspaper in the Czech Republic. It is the most widely circulated paper in the country

Read more: The Last Paradise on Earth