A Brief Biography of The Sixth Desi Rinpoche: Ngawang Lobsang Choeki Nyima

 

In 1969, I, the sixth Desi reincarnation, Ngawang Lobsang Choekyi Nyima was born in Raldri Gang in the Dranang district of the state Lhoka, in Tibet.  When I was only two years old, not knowing about Sungrabling Monastery in Lhoka Gongkar district, I pointed in the direction of the destroyed monastery and said unconsciously, “My monastery is over there, it’s name is Sungrabling,” then continued to say to my father, “Are there still people living there?  Can you bring me there?” However, that period in time was extremely problematic.  Due to the harsh and strict prohibition of Buddhist practices throughout Tibet, all Tibetans, including my parents and relatives were forced to live without religious freedom under the lenses of the Red Chinese. Their compliance can be explained by the fact that if the Chinese government officials uncovered any Buddhist practices, including simply wearing prayer beads or uttering the Buddha’s name, then my parents and relatives would be immediately sent to prison and tortured.  Thus, between the ages of eight to twelve, I studied Tibetan writing and reading at a local public school, abiding by the unreasonable laws imposed upon us by the Chinese government.        In 1985, with the easing of the religious prohibitions, Sungrabling Monastery and the local people of Gongkar Dhol called together a splendid gathering and recognized me as the reincarnation of the fifth Desi Ngawang Monlam Gyatso.   With this, permission was sought after from both the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the regional department of Lhoka to celebrate my throne appointment as the sixth Desi Ngawang Lobsang choekyi nyima.  After permission was granted, several tens and thousands of Tibetans gathered in Sungrabling Monastery for the celebration, which was considered to be of great significance.  That night, many of the local people experienced a strange feeling upon seeing a magnificent rainbow over the monastery, for in the Tibetan culture, rainbows typically are signs of good fortunes to come. 

At the age of fifteen, in 1986, I took foremost ordination as a novice monk in front of the Shakyamuni statue from the abbot Lobsang Phuntsok of the temple – Tsuklakkhang in Lhasa. Along with studying Buddhism in my own monastery, I also performed several life-long pujas, or initiations of longevity for the people of Namkartse, Gongkar and Dranang district every spring and summer.  I also provided blessings to help with the recovery of those who were physically disabled and conducted exorcisms for those possessed, by reciting mantras on lucky days.  Upon hearing of such events, some top Chinese officials came to tell me that, “Recently, many fraudulent lamas and tulkus are deceiving the people, causing tantamount anxiety.  However, we heard you are one who serves the people loyally, hoping to benefit them extensively.  If you continue to serve as a good Chinese lama within your monastery, we will use all our might to help you to develop and improve your monastery.” 

  Later in 1989 about ten monks from Sungrabling Monastery protested against China in front of a police cantonment near my monastery .  The reason being was that after the 1987 and 1988 demonstrations in Lhasa, a big board containing the speech by the prime minister of Tibet was plastered by a nearby town -- Chedeshol, permitting Chinese police to shoot or imprison anyone who acts as a “state separatist.”  Due to these unreasonably established policies, the monks from my monastery went to rip and paint graffiti over the speech at night.  Unfortunately, the next morning, all ten monks were arrested and as usual, treated inhumanely.  One or two days following their arrest, the Chinese officials returned with a new policy to prohibit us from practicing Buddhism in my monastery. After that, I planned an escape to India to pursue my study in Buddhism.  When I told my father about my idea, he immediately blacked out and fell over.  While regaining his consciousness, there were tears rolling down his checks as he told me, “You have already acquired a vast amount of knowledge in Buddhism, please don’t leave me here alone when I take my last breath.” I tried to console him to ease his pain, but with little success. Moreover some sponsors of my monastery requested that I not go too far away, leaving them behind with no one in whom they can take refuge. They said they would of course make pleas to the Chinese government for whatever was needed.  It saddened me deeply that I could not honor their requests, but still I graciously asked them to continue their support.

  In October of 1989, after successfully trekking through the treacherous Himalayas for eighteen days with eleven others, I reached Nepal.  Four days after arriving in Nepal, we took a three-day bus to Delhi, then subsequently to Dharamsala.  Eighteen days later, I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of Tibetan refugees who met with H.H. The Dalai Lama and received his blessing along with a few traditional gifts.  More significantly, two or three days after our first group meeting, I got a golden opportunity to have a private audience with H.H. The Dalai Lama in his room.  He advised me to further enhance my knowledge of all aspects of Buddhism in Drepung Monastery located in South India for their superb academic program is widely known, and after finishing my studies, I should contact his office to receive further support.  Having been explicitly advised by His Holiness, I arrived in the Tibetan settlement -- Mundgod, South India, in November of that same year.  Another month later, I started my intense study of Buddhist philosophy in Drepung Monastery, keeping in mind all the valuable suggestions provided to me by His Holiness.  Although here I only mention two meetings, later in 1996, 1997 and 2005 I got more life-changing opportunities to meet with His Holiness, whereupon he inquired about my studies, reminding me to contact him upon the completion of my tantric studies.

   In 1991, I was ordained as a Gelong, the highest ordination a monk can take, which includes accepting the two hundred and fifty three vows.  This was conducted before His Holiness in his residence at Dharamsala.  Starting from 1991, I studied volumes upon volumes of Buddhist scripture in Loseling Monastery, which is one section of the Drepung Monastery, and graduated in the year 2000.  From 2000 to 2006, I participated in the yearly 18-day examinations held every September.  We were expected to study and memorize scriptures outside of those eighteen days so that we would be well-prepared for those intense exams.  These exams were supervised by many well-known scholars and the ex-abbot of Drepung Monastery.  I took the exams in Tibetan grammar, poetry, writing, Tibetan and Buddhist histories, and the five major subjects (Pramana, Abhidharma, Paramitayana, Madhyamika, Vinaya) of Tibetan Buddhism.  My scores in all the above subjects always fell in the top three highest scores, thus, entitling me as Geshe Lharampa. 

   After the six-year exams in February of 2006, having earned the rank of Geshe Lharampa, I participated in one very special debate session in Ganden and Sera Monasteries in South India, held before numerous highly reputed scholars from the three major monasteries of Tibet (Sera, Drepung, and Ganden).  This debate took place over a nine-day festival called the Molam Religious Festival, which is one of the most valuable contributions made by the incomparable Je Tsongkhapa.  It was quite an experience for me.  In the mornings, I, alone, would debate with student monks, whereas at night, I, along with four other Geshe Lharampas would sit together and respond to the mind-twisting questions presented to us from older Geshe Lharampas.  Throughout all this, two to three thousand monks would sit in the audience watching and listening intently to what was spoken as well as the sharp claps signaling the end of a statement.  In April of the same year, I studied the different constructions of various mandalas as well as ritual performances in Gyumed Tantric University majoring in Tantric Studies.  Approximately one year after I entered GTU, I completed the tantric exams, which were supervised by the abbot of GTU and other tantric scholars, and I received the highest score on the tantric exam.

                In short, with all the priceless advice and teachings of His Holiness, I am, on a daily basis, always endeavoring to put them into practice.  On March 18, 2007, I was called into the palace of H.H. The Dalai Lama in the morning, where he told me, “Starting from today, you can stay here in Dharamsala to help with whatever is needed. Thus now, I am serving with all my might in the palace.
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