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Rinpoche wanted to be zoo keeper – Goodbye Boston Celtics, Domino’s pizza, it’s study time

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 30, 2009

Wangchuk’s parents Dechen and Chosang at Druk-Sa-Ngag Choeling monastery in Dali.

Darjeeling, Oct. 29(The Telegraph): Eleven-year-old Jigme Wangchuk had always wanted to be a “zoo keeper” till he was discovered as the incarnate of Gyalwa Lorepa, the first reincarnation since the monk of the Drukpa-Kagyu lineage passed away in 1250 AD.

Now, the boy from Boston will have to say goodbye to computer games and surfing and instead devote his time spreading the teachings of Lorepa, known as Lore Kabum.

Sitting outside his room at Druk-Sa-Ngag Choeling monastery in Dali where he was enthroned yesterday, mother Dechen and father Chosang recalled that Wangchuk was always a fidgety boy. “He loved basketball and obviously supported Boston Celtics. He loved junk food, especially Domino’s Pizza and computer games and would spend hours on (surfing) the (inter) net. He always said he wanted to be a zoo keeper because he was not bothered about money but wanted to be close to animals,” Dechen said. Whenever he was in India, he spent time with stray dogs.

But computer games will now be a strict no-no for the boy-turned-rinpoche (high priest). “I have brought his laptop with me but I can only bring it to him on Sunday when he is a bit free,” said the mother.

The monastery routine for the young rinpoche will start at 5.30am. Rituals will follow the memorising of thepecha (Tibetan texts). “A yonzim (teacher), his assistant and his personal attendant have already been chosen. The yonzim will be more than his parents from now,” said Lama Pemba Tshering, the assistant secretary of the monastery.

In the days to come, he will also be taught different languages and mathematics. To start with, the American boy will have to learn the Tibetan language.

Wangchuk after he was enthroned

“Most of the texts are written in Sanskrit and Pali and have been translated into Tibetan. Most of the monks chant their rituals in Sanskrit. But it is easy if they learn Tibetan language,” said Ngawang Tenzin Gyatso, the general secretary of the monastery located 3km from Darjeeling.

It is after 759 years that the Second Lorepa has been identified. The teachings of the first Lorepa had been compiled by monks in Nepal. “We can only read them but now he (Wangchuk) will have the authority to speak on them,” said Lama Pemba.

The 2nd Gyalwa Lorepa will be in Darjeeling for another six to seven years after which he will be moving for higher studies to the Tongo Buddhist Institute in Thimpu. And for the next six years, the family, too, will be staying in Darjeeling.

“Our only objective now is to be as close to him as possible. I always fed him or else he would not take his food. We will be staying here, to be near him,” said the mother.

The family has sold their restaurant business in Boston and has come to Darjeeling. They want to get their 10-year-old daughter admitted to a school in Darjeeling. The parents were born in Mysore but the mother grew up in Dehra Dun. Adjusting to life in India is not expected to be difficult.

Lama Pemba, however, said over the years the family must detach themselves from the boy, who had yesterday said in written replies to questions fielded to him that he would keep in touch with his friend over email.

The young rinpoche will now have to give up all his favourite pastimes, except perhaps one which he will be allowed to pursue. “He loves to write poems. He had even won the first prize in a poetry competition across the Massachusetts state,” said Dechen.

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