Venerable Tokden Rinpoche, one of the senior-most lamas of Tibetan Buddhism and particularly of the Gelugpa tradition, was born in 1944 in the Dagyab district of Kham Province, Tibet. He was recognized as a reincarnated lama from childhood and received basic teachings on Buddhism and Tibetan literature from Gen Rinchen Choedak, one of the main disciples of his own predecessor.
In 1952 he began his long journey towards Lhasa and joined Drepung Loseling Monastery upon his arrival. He received his novice vows and began his intensive studies under legendary scholars such as Denma Lochoe Rinpoche, Phara Khensure Gen Pema Gyaltsen Rinpoche, and Shakor Gen Nyima Gyaltsen Rinpoche. He also received complete sutra and tantra teachings, oral transmissions and empowerments from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche.
Under His Holiness’s guidance, Tokden Rinpoche gave teachings and empowerments in the Himalayan region, including Spiti and Ladhak. Rinpoche was appointed the abbot of Ratoe monastery in Mundgod, India in 1999. His abbotship lasted five years with many improvements in the disciplinary and educational system. Rinpoche was appointed for the three-year deputy abbot post of Gyuto monastery in 2003, followed by three years as the abbot of the monastery.
Tokden Rinpoche, Gelek Rimpoche and Sonam Dhargye at Jewel Heart Summer Retreat, 1993
Photo Courtesy of The Allen Ginsberg Estate